Home on the (expanding) range: evaluating the effectiveness of a novel host's induced defenses against the mountain pine beetle-fungal complex


Amy M. Trowbridge, Ken Keefover-Ring


Tree physiology


The mountain pine beetle (MPB; Dendroctonus ponderosae) is one of the most destructive forest pests, responsible for the death of billions of coniferous trees from Mexico to Alaska (Bentz et al. 2009). Behavioral plasticity helps the beetle sustain endemic levels until the right conditions are met, thus releasing constraints on population growth and resulting in a population eruption (Raffa et al. 2008). These large-scale outbreak events have resulted in significant impacts on ecosystem function and negative effects on local and regional economies (Ayres and Lombardero 2000, Kurz et al. 2008, Edburg et al. 2012). While the mechanisms contributing to bark beetle outbreaks are complex (Raffa et al. 2008, Bleiker et al. 2014), predicted increases in mean annual global temperatures will influence insect population success and expansion both directly via changes in development (Parmesan 2006, Jamieson et al. 2012) and indirectly via altered host defenses (Lusebrink et al. 2016, Erbilgin et al. 2017, Jamieson et al. 2017). The role that plant secondary compounds play during an insect host expansion, however, is unclear, especially for insects that rely on associated symbionts, as is the case for the MPB and its associated blue stain fungi.



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