, Volume 4, Issue 2, pp 171-180
Date: 07 Jul 2007

Evaluation of genetic variation of attack and resistance in lodgepole pine in the early stages of a mountain pine beetle outbreak

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Abstract

We examined variation of attack by mountain pine beetle (MPB) (Dendroctonus ponderosae) (Coleoptera: Scolytidae) in a 20-year-old lodgepole pine open-pollinated (OP) family trial composed of 165 OP parent-trees originating from local and nonlocal provenances. Trees were assessed in the summer of 2005 for traits relating to attack, survival, gallery formation, and infection from the fungi associated with MPB, Ophiostoma sp. Successful initial attack was determined by the presence of dead (i.e., red or gray foliage) crowns and the presence of entrance holes from MPB. Eighty-seven percent of the trees still had green crowns in the fall of 2005 (GC05), with family mean differences ranging from 46 to 100%. The mean number of pitch tubes per tree (PT#05) (in a sampling area of 225 cm2 at breast height) was 1.5 with a range from 0 to 14 per tree. However, for pitch tubes indicating presence or absence (PTP05) of MPB on each tree, 63% of the trees had pitch tubes and family means ranged from 7 to 100%. Significant levels of genetic variation were found for GC05 and PTP05 with narrow-sense heritabilities of 0.20 (SE = 0.11) and 0.26 (SE = 0.07), respectively. Provenance differences were also significant, indicating that some population structure is present for these “resistance” attributes. The family breeding value correlations between 10-year height growth and PTP05 was 0.22, indicating that at the population level faster growing families may be slightly more subject to attack. An intensive survey of a subsample of 442 trees in the test (selected from 50 families with a range of attack levels) was conducted, and trees were reassessed for the presence of attack, presence of blue stain in the wood, and presence of galleries and egg chambers/eggs in the gallery. Family means ranged from 0 to 57% for blue stain, 11 to 63% for galleries, and 0 to 57% for egg chambers/eggs; however, due to the relatively small sample sizes and the nature of the binary data, family differences were not highly statistically significant. Further research is underway to improve the quantitative genetic parameters and determine the actual mechanisms at work; however, it is clear the MPB does react differently to host genotypes in terms of initial attack.