Main content area

Anatomical defences against bark beetles relate to degree of historical exposure between species and are allocated independently of chemical defences within trees

Mason, Charles J., Keefover‐Ring, Ken, Villari, Caterina, Klutsch, Jennifer G., Cook, Stephen, Bonello, Pierluigi, Erbilgin, Nadir, Raffa, Kenneth F., Townsend, Philip A.
Plant, cell and environment 2019 v.42 no.2 pp. 633-646
Dendroctonus ponderosae, Pinus contorta var. latifolia, bark, bark beetles, chemical defenses, chemistry, conifers, growth rings, herbivores, hosts, metabolites, nutrients, phloem, resin canals, resins, symbionts, toxins, tree growth, trees
Conifers possess chemical and anatomical defences against tree‐killing bark beetles that feed in their phloem. Resins accumulating at attack sites can delay and entomb beetles while toxins reach lethal levels. Trees with high concentrations of metabolites active against bark beetle‐microbial complexes, and more extensive resin ducts, achieve greater survival. It is unknown if and how conifers integrate chemical and anatomical components of defence or how these capabilities vary with historical exposure. We compared linkages between phloem chemistry and tree ring anatomy of two mountain pine beetle hosts. Lodgepole pine, a mid‐elevation species, has had extensive, continual contact with this herbivore, whereas high‐elevation whitebark pines have historically had intermittent exposure that is increasing with warming climate. Lodgepole pine had more and larger resin ducts. In both species, anatomical defences were positively related to tree growth and nutrients. Within‐tree constitutive and induced concentrations of compounds bioactive against bark beetles and symbionts were largely unrelated to resin duct abundance and size. Fewer anatomical defences in the semi‐naïve compared with the continually exposed host concurs with directional differences in chemical defences. Partially uncoupling chemical and morphological antiherbivore traits may enable trees to confront beetles with more diverse defence permutations that interact to resist attack.