Effect of coffee alkaloids and phenolics on egg-laying by the coffee leaf miner Leucoptera coffeella.
The recognized importance of coffee alkaloids and phenolics mediating insect-plant interactions led to the present investigation aiming to test the hypothesis that the phenolics chlorogenic and caffeic acids and the alkaloid caffeine and some of its derivatives present in coffee leaves affect egg-laying by the coffee leaf miner Leucoptera (=Perileucoptera) coffeella (Guérin-Méneville & Perrottet) (Lepidoptera: Lyonetiidae), one of the main coffee pests in the Neotropical region. These phytochemicals were, therefore, quantified in leaves from 12 coffee genotypes and their effect on the egg-laying preference by the coffee leaf miner was assessed. Canonical variate analysis and partial canonical correlation provided evidence that increased leaf levels of caffeine favour egg-laying by the coffee leaf miner. An egg-laying preference bioassay was, therefore, carried out to specifically test this hypothesis using increasing caffeine concentrations sprayed on leaves of one of the coffee genotypes with the lowest level of this compound (i.e. Hybrid UFV 557-04 generated from a cross between Coffea racemosa Lour. and C. arabica L.). The results obtained allowed the recognition of a significant concentration-response relationship, providing support for the hypothesis that caffeine stimulates egg-laying by the coffee leaf miner in coffee leaves.