The Relative Abundance of Mountain Pine Beetle Fungal Associates Through the Beetle Life Cycle in Pine Trees
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- Khadempour, L., LeMay, V., Jack, D. et al. Microb Ecol (2012) 64: 909. doi:10.1007/s00248-012-0077-z
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The mountain pine beetle (MPB) is a native bark beetle of western North America that attacks pine tree species, particularly lodgepole pine. It is closely associated with the ophiostomatoid ascomycetes Grosmannia clavigera, Leptographium longiclavatum, Ophiostoma montium, and Ceratocystiopsis sp.1, with which it is symbiotically associated. To develop a better understanding of interactions between beetles, fungi, and host trees, we used target-specific DNA primers with qPCR to assess the changes in fungal associate abundance over the stages of the MPB life cycle that occur in galleries under the bark of pine trees. Multivariate analysis of covariance identified statistically significant changes in the relative abundance of the fungi over the life cycle of the MPB. Univariate analysis of covariance identified a statistically significant increase in the abundance of Ceratocystiopsis sp.1 through the beetle life cycle, and pair-wise analysis showed that this increase occurs after the larval stage. In contrast, the abundance of O. montium and Leptographium species (G. clavigera, L. longiclavatum) did not change significantly through the MPB life cycle. From these results, the only fungus showing a significant increase in relative abundance has not been formally described and has been largely ignored by other MPB studies. Although our results were from only one site, in previous studies we have shown that the fungi described were all present in at least ten sites in British Columbia. We suggest that the role of Ceratocystiopsis sp.1 in the MPB system should be explored, particularly its potential as a source of nutrients for teneral adults.