Temporal dynamics and biocontrol potential of a hyperparasite on coffee leaf rust across a landscape in Arabica coffee’s native range
Zewdie, Beyene et al. (2021), Temporal dynamics and biocontrol potential of a hyperparasite on coffee leaf rust across a landscape in Arabica coffee’s native range, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.n5tb2rbv1
Agroforestry systems can provide habitats for rich biodiversity including multitrophic interactions, which presents opportunities to develop natural pest control. Shade coffee systems in several coffee-growing areas of the world host such unique habitats where pests and their natural enemies interact. One of the major global challenges for coffee production, coffee leaf rust caused by the fungal pathogen Hemileia vastatrix is attacked by the fungal hyperparasite, Lecanicillium lecanii. However, we lack insights in the dynamics and biocontrol potential of the hyperparasite on coffee leaf rust from landscapes in Arabica coffee’s native range. To understand the temporal dynamics across landscapes and environmental drivers of the rust and hyperparasite, and the potential for biocontrol of the rust by the hyperparasite, we studied the rust and hyperparasite during the dry and wet seasons for three consecutive years at 60 sites across a gradient of coffee management in southwestern Ethiopia. We found that coffee leaf rust was more severe during the dry season, whereas the hyperparasite was more severe during the wet season in two out of three years. The rust growth rate from the wet to the dry season transition was negatively related to the hyperparasite index during the wet season, implying a potential top-down control. Coffee leaf rust was generally more severe at lower altitudes in the dry season, whereas the hyperparasite was more severe at high altitude. The rust incidence increased with management intensity, while the hyperparasite was more common under less intensive management. This study could be interesting in that it represents a landscape where Arabica coffee originated and the rust and hyperparasite might have a long co-evolutionary history. Our findings highlight the potential of the hyperparasite to suppress the rust’s growth rate from the wet to dry season transition when the rust severity could otherwise be at its peak. We show that less intensively managed landscapes with dense shade levels are likely to increase hyperparasite abundance and result in an improved top-down control of the rust. However, more detailed knowledge is needed on the interaction of these species to assess its importance for reducing rust induced yield losses or the risk of rust outbreaks.