Low-density Ceratocystis polonica inoculation of Norway spruce (Picea abies) triggers accumulation of monoterpenes with antifungal properties
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- Novak, M., Krajnc, A.U., Lah, L. et al. Eur J Forest Res (2014) 133: 573. doi:10.1007/s10342-013-0772-4
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Among the most devastating pests of Norway spruce (Picea abies) are the European spruce bark beetle (Ips typographus) and the associated pathogenic blue-stain fungus Ceratocystis polonica. Following attack and colonization, the beetle and the fungus must cope with induced host chemical defenses, such as monoterpenes that are generally thought to be toxic to both symbionts. The goal of this study was to better understand the response of Norway spruce following C. polonica inoculation at low density that does not overwhelm the tree and to identify monoterpenes mobilized toward the fungus. We inoculated healthy mature trees and monitored monoterpene profiles 2, 3, and 5 months post-inoculation. We also exposed three different C. polonica strains to the most abundant or significantly up-regulated monoterpenes to determine differences in monoterpene toxicity and resistance among strains. Total monoterpene levels, including limonene, were increased at 2 and 3 months after inoculation and had dropped after 5 months. In in vitro assays, all monoterpenes were inhibitory to C. polonica. Limonene and β-pinene were the most potent inhibitors of fungal growth. The extent of inhibition varied between the three strains tested. These results showed a defense response of Norway spruce to C. polonica, in which limonene may play a critical role in inhibiting the spread of the fungus. We also showed that differences between strains of C. polonica must be taken into account when assessing the role of the fungus in this bark beetle–symbiont system.