Conifer Stored Resources and Resistance to a Fungus Associated with the Spruce Bark Beetle Ips typographus
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionLahr EC, Krokene P (2013) Conifer Stored Resources and Resistance to a Fungus Associated with the Spruce Bark Beetle Ips typographus. PLoS ONE 8(8): e72405 10.1371/journal.pone.0072405
Bark beetles and associated fungi are among the greatest natural threats to conifers worldwide. Conifers have potent defenses, but resistance to beetles and fungal pathogens may be reduced if tree stored resources are consumed by fungi rather than used for tree defense. Here, we assessed the relationship between tree stored resources and resistance to Ceratocystis polonica , a phytopathogenic fungus vectored by the spruce bark beetle Ips typographus. We measured phloem and sapwood nitrogen, non-structural carbohydrates (NSC), and lipids before and after trees were attacked by I. typographus (vectoring C. polonica) or artificially inoculated with C. polonica alone. Tree resistance was assessed by measuring phloem lesions and the proportion of necrotic phloem around the tree’s circumference following attack or inoculation. While initial resource concentrations were unrelated to tree resistance to C. polonica, over time, phloem NSC and sapwood lipids declined in the trees inoculated with C. polonica. Greater resource declines correlated with less resistant trees (trees with larger lesions or more necrotic phloem), suggesting that resource depletion may be caused by fungal consumption rather than tree resistance. Ips typographus may then benefit indirectly from reduced tree defenses caused by fungal resource uptake. Our research on tree stored resources represents a novel way of understanding bark beetle-fungal-conifer interactions.