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Phenotyping tree resistance to a bark chewing insect, the pine weevil Hylobius abietis

AuthorsZas Arregui, Rafael ; Poceiro, María Silvana; Lores Méndez, María ; Rolke, Laura M.; Sampedro Pérez, Luis
KeywordsBreeding for resistance
Induced defences
Forest pests
Mediterranean pines
Nonvolatile resin
Phenotyping protocols
Pinus pinaster
Pinus pinea
Pinus radiata
Pinus sylvestris
Issue Date22-Jul-2019
PublisherJohn Wiley & Sons
CitationAnnals of Applied Biology: 1-10 (2019)
AbstractBreeding for resistance to forest pests and pathogens is emerging as a promising tool for minimising the impact of the increasing biotic threats that our forests are experiencing as a consequence of global change. Efficient phenotyping protocols of resistance are urgently needed. Here we present the results of two experiments aimed to determine whether the variation in resistance to the pine weevil Hylobius abietis, a harmful pest of European conifers, can be inferred by nondestructive bioassays using excised plant material collected in forest genetic trials. Weevil damage and amount of nonvolatile resin induced by weevil feeding were assessed in young trees and in branches of adult trees using several phenotyping procedures (bioassays using either living trees, excised plant material and cut stem twigs) on four pine species (Pinus pinaster, P. radiata, P. sylvestris and P. pinea). Half of the plants were previously induced with methyl jasmonate (MJ), a treatment that is known to affect resistance to the pine weevil. In Experiment 1, living and excised plants showed parallel results: MJ treatment significantly reduced weevil damage, and saplings responded to weevil damage locally increasing the nonvolatile resin (NVR) in the stems proportionally to the damage suffered. This response was, however, slightly lower in excised than in living saplings. On the contrary, patterns of weevil feeding on stem twigs completely departed from those observed in living and excised seedlings. Moreover, cut stem twigs were unable to respond to weevil feeding increasing NVR according to the weevil damage. In Experiment 2, assessment of weevil damage on excised branches explained around 50% of variation in damage on living branches. This relationship became much more pronounced (R2 = 0.81) when explored at the mean treatment level; branch manipulation did not alter the patterns of variation in resistance across pine species or MJ treatments. Irrespective of the assessment procedure, MJ consistently decreased weevil damage in all pine species, with larger reduction in weevil damage in stone and maritime pine than in radiata and Scots pine. Radiata pine was the most resistant while Scots pine was the most susceptible to the pine weevil. Overall, results suggest that using excised plant material is an operative alternative for phenotyping weevil resistance whenever care is taken to maintain the functionality of the excised plant material. This will allow taking advantage of multiple available conifer genetic trials to deepen the ecological genetics of resistance to the pine weevil and to screen for resistance without compromising the long‐term utility of those genetic trials.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/aab.12533
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