Gut Microbiota Mediate Caffeine Detoxification In The Primary Insect Pest Of Coffee

An interesting example of host's adaptation to its niche being facilitated by its microbiome

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A newly published paper in Nature Communications provides a nice illustration of how the microbiome - or at least some of its constituents - may contribute to an organism's adaptation to its habitat. Here, Ceja-Navarro et al show that the coffee berry borer, which feeds on coffee plants and is an important pest of coffee plantations worldwide, breaks down the toxic caffeine thanks to the metabolic activity of a Pseudomonas species that is a constituent of the borer's gut microbiome. The authors demonstrate that Pseudomonas caffeine demethylase genes are expressed in vivo in the borer's gut. Moreover, borers that cannot digest caffeine following antibiotic treatment which kills the Pseudomonas bacteria can regain their ability to tolerate caffeine upon re-inoculation with Pseudomonas.

Nature Communications 6, article number 7618, doi:10.1038/ncomms8618

Magdalena Skipper

Editor in Chief, Nature, Nature Research, Springer Nature

I am a geneticist by training. Having done research using classical genetics and molecular biology in a variety of model organisms I left the bench to become an editor, first for Nature Reviews Genetics and then Nature. I have worked with the research community as an editor, in a variety of roles, for over 17 years