Fire Injury Reduces Inducible Defenses of Lodgepole Pine against Mountain Pine Beetle
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- Powell, E.N. & Raffa, K.F. J Chem Ecol (2011) 37: 1184. doi:10.1007/s10886-011-0031-4
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We examined the effect of wildfire injury on lodgepole pine chemical defenses against mountain pine beetle. We compared the constitutive phloem chemistry among uninjured, lightly-, moderately-, and severely-injured trees, and the induced chemistry elicited by simulated beetle attack, among these same categories. We also compared the entry rates of caged female beetles into trees of these categories. The volatiles we studied included thirteen monoterpene hydrocarbons, four allylic monoterpene alcohols, one ester, and one phenyl propanoid, of which the monoterpene hydrocarbons always comprised 96% or more of the total. Fire injury reduced the total concentration of these compounds in the induced but not constitutive phloem tissue of lodgepole pines. Fire injury also affected the relative composition of some volatiles in both induced and constitutive phloem. For example, increased fire injury reduced 4-allylanisole, a host compound that inhibits mountain pine beetle aggregation. Increased fire injury also increased (−) α-pinene, which can serve as precursor of pheromone communication. However, it also reduced myrcene and terpinolene, which can serve as stimulants and synergists of pheromone communication. Beetle entry did not show statistical differences among fire injury categories, although there was a trend to increased entry with fire injury. These results suggest that the reduced ability of trees to mobilize induced chemical defenses is an important mechanism behind the higher incidence of attack on fire-injured trees in the field. Future studies should concentrate on whether beetles that enter fire-injured trees are more likely to elicit aggregation, based on the differences we observed in volatile composition.