Journal Article

Nutritional and pathogenic fungi associated with the pine engraver beetle trigger comparable defenses in Scots pine

Caterina Villari, Andrea Battisti, Sourav Chakraborty, Marco Michelozzi, Pierluigi Bonello and Massimo Faccoli

Edited by Chunyang Li

in Tree Physiology

Volume 32, issue 7, pages 867-879
Published in print July 2012 | ISSN: 0829-318X
Published online June 2012 | e-ISSN: 1758-4469 | DOI:
Nutritional and pathogenic fungi associated with the pine engraver beetle trigger comparable defenses in Scots pine

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Conifer bark beetles are often associated with fungal complexes whose components have different ecological roles. Some associated species are nutritionally obligate fungi, serving as nourishment to the larvae, whereas others are pathogenic blue-stain fungi known to be involved in the interaction with host defenses. In this study we characterized the local and systemic defense responses of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) against Ophiostoma brunneo-ciliatum Math. (a blue-stain pathogen) and Hyalorhinocladiella macrospora (Franke-Grosm.) Harr. (a nutritional fungus). These fungi are the principal associates of the pine engraver beetle, Ips acuminatus (Gyll.). Host responses were studied following inoculation with the fungi, singly and as a fungal complex, and by identifying and quantifying terpenoids, phenolic compounds and lignin. Although the length of the necrotic lesions differed between control (wound) and fungal treatments, only two compounds (pinosylvin monomethyl ether and (+)-α-pinene) were significantly affected by the presence of the fungi, indicating that Scots pine has a generic, rather than specific, induced response. The fact that both nutritional and blue-stain fungi triggered comparable induced defense responses suggests that even a non-pathogenic fungus may participate in exhausting host plant defenses, indirectly assisting in the beetle establishment process. Our findings contribute to the further development of current theory on the role of associated fungal complexes in bark beetle ecology.

Keywords: blue-stain; induced response; Ips acuminatus; mutualism; phenolics; Pinus sylvestris; secondary metabolism; symbiosis; terpenoids

Journal Article.  8654 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Plant Sciences and Forestry

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