Biological Invasions

, Volume 19, Issue 11, pp 3215–3228 | Cite as

Novel associations between ophiostomatoid fungi, insects and tree hosts: current status—future prospects

  • Michael J. Wingfield
  • Irene BarnesEmail author
  • Z. Wilhelm de Beer
  • Jolanda Roux
  • Brenda D. Wingfield
  • Stephen J. Taerum
Forest Invasions


Associations between fungal tree pathogens and insects have been recognized for at least 100 years. An important group of these fungi, termed ‘ophiostomatoid fungi’ on account of their morphological similarity, are represented by genera in the families Ceratocystidaceae and Ophiostomataceae. Associations between these fungi, tree-colonizing insects, and host trees have been actively researched since their first discovery. Human activities have led to the global movement of fungi from both families, resulting in the establishment of new and sometimes damaging associations between these fungi, insects and trees. Recent ‘black swan’ events have resulted in an unprecedented increase of ambrosia and bark beetle-associated diseases of forest and fruit trees. We revisit some of the most important emergent diseases caused by the ophiostomatoid fungi, outline the reasons behind the emergence of these diseases, and consider long-term prospects regarding the threats that they pose to forestry and agriculture.


Biological invasions Fungal-insect symbiosis Invasive forest pathogen (IFP) Invasive fungi 



We thank the members of the Tree Protection Co-operative Programme (TPCP), the National Research Foundation, South Africa for providing funding that contributed to research underpinning arguments provided in this review. We would like to thank Thomas Kirisits, Seonju Marincowitz, Shuaifei Chen and Panaghiotis Tsopelas for photograph contributions.


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© Springer International Publishing AG Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Genetics, Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI)University of PretoriaPretoriaSouth Africa
  2. 2.Department of Plant and Soil Science, Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI)University of PretoriaPretoriaSouth Africa
  3. 3.Department of Microbiology and Plant Pathology, Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI)University of PretoriaPretoriaSouth Africa

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