The suitability of the balsam woolly adelgid, Adelges piceae Ratzeburg (Hemiptera: Adelgidae) as an alternate mass rearing host for the adelgid predator, Sasajiscymnus tsugae Sasaji and McClure (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae) was studied in the laboratory. This predator is native to Japan and has been introduced to eastern hemlock, Tsuga canadensis (L.) Carrière (Pinales: Pinaceae), forests throughout the eastern United States for biological control of the hemlock woolly adelgid, Adelges tsugae Annand (Hemiptera: Adelgidae), also of Japanese origin. Feeding, oviposition, immature development, and adult long-term survival of S. tsugae were tested in a series of no choice (single-prey) and paired-choice experiments between the primary host prey, A. tsugae, and the alternate host prey, A. piceae. In paired-choice feeding tests, the predator did not discriminate between eggs of the two adelgid species, but in the no choice tests the predator did eat significantly more eggs of A. piceae than those of A. tsugae. S. tsugae accepted both test prey for oviposition and preferred to lay eggs on adelgid infested versus noninfested host plants. Overall oviposition rates were very low (< 1 egg per predator female) in the oviposition preference tests. Predator immature development rates did not differ between the two test prey, but only 60% of S. tsugae survived egg to adult development when fed A. piceae compared to 86% when fed A. tsugae. S. tsugae adult long-term survival was significantly influenced (positively and negatively) by prey type and the availability of a supplemental food source (diluted honey) when offered aestivating A. tsugae sistens nymphs or ovipositing aestivosistens A. piceae adults, but not when offered ovipositing A. tsugae sistens adults. These results suggest that the development of S. tsugae laboratory colonies reared on a diet consisting only of A. piceae may be possible, and that the biological control potential of the predator might be expanded to include management of A. piceae in Christmas tree plantations.
Abies fraseri; alternate rearing host; balsam woolly adelgid; biological control; hemlock woolly adelgid; prey suitability; Tsuga canadensis
Very little is known about the searching behavior and sensory cues that Laricobius spp. (Coleoptera: Derodontidae) predators use to locate suitable habitats and prey, which limits our ability to collect and monitor them for classical biological control of adelgids (Hemiptera: Adelgidae). The aim of this study was to examine the visual ability and the searching behavior of newly emerged L. nigrinus Fender, a host-specific predator of the hemlock woolly adelgid, Adelges tsugae Annand (Hemiptera: Phylloxeroidea: Adelgidae). In a laboratory bioassay, individual adults attempting to locate an uninfested eastern hemlock seedling under either light or dark conditions were observed in an arena. In another bioassay, individual adults searching for prey on hemlock seedlings (infested or uninfested) were continuously video-recorded. Beetles located and began climbing the seedling stem in light significantly more than in dark, indicating that vision is an important sensory modality. Our primary finding was that searching behavior of L. nigrinus, as in most species, was related to food abundance. Beetles did not fly in the presence of high A. tsugae densities and flew when A. tsugae was absent, which agrees with observed aggregations of beetles on heavily infested trees in the field. At close range of prey, slow crawling and frequent turning suggest the use of non-visual cues such as olfaction and contact chemoreception. Based on the beetles' visual ability to locate tree stems and their climbing behavior, a bole trap may be an effective collection and monitoring tool.
biological control; hemlock woolly adelgid; monitoring; predation; Tsuga canadensis; visual cues
Sasajiscymnus tsugae Sasaji and McClure (Coleeptera: Coccinellidae), is a biological control agent imported for management of hemlock woolly adelgid, Adelges tsugae Annand. In mass rearing S. tsugae, accurate estimation of egg numbers is important because larvae are cannibalistic, especially at higher densities. To determine the most accurate means of estimating egg production, three brands of gauze were compared as oviposition substrates. Curad® gauze provided the most accurate estimate of egg production, and was the most cost effective brand. When eggs were collected from oviposition jars, similar adult yields of S. tsugae occurred between rearing cages infested with 1,650 eggs from gauze compared to eggs on the twigs from within these jars. Additionally, orientation of oviposition jars impacted S. tsugae egg production as significantly more eggs were produced in horizontally oriented oviposition jars.
biological control; invasive species
Adelgids (Insecta: Hemiptera: Adelgidae) are known as severe pests of various conifers in North America, Canada, Europe and Asia. Here, we present the first molecular identification of bacteriocyte-associated symbionts in these plant sap-sucking insects. Three geographically distant populations of members of the Adelges nordmannianae/piceae complex, identified based on coI and ef1alpha gene sequences, were investigated. Electron and light microscopy revealed two morphologically different endosymbionts, coccoid or polymorphic, which are located in distinct bacteriocytes. Phylogenetic analyses of their 16S and 23S rRNA gene sequences assigned both symbionts to novel lineages within the Gammaproteobacteria sharing <92% 16S rRNA sequence similarity with each other and showing no close relationship with known symbionts of insects. Their identity and intracellular location were confirmed by fluorescence in situ hybridization, and the names ‘Candidatus Steffania adelgidicola' and ‘Candidatus Ecksteinia adelgidicola' are proposed for tentative classification. Both symbionts were present in all individuals of all investigated populations and in different adelgid life stages including eggs, suggesting vertical transmission from mother to offspring. An 85 kb genome fragment of ‘Candidatus S. adelgidicola' was reconstructed based on a metagenomic library created from purified symbionts. Genomic features including the frequency of pseudogenes, the average length of intergenic regions and the presence of several genes which are absent in other long-term obligate symbionts, suggested that ‘Candidatus S. adelgidicola' is an evolutionarily young bacteriocyte-associated symbiont, which has been acquired after diversification of adelgids from their aphid sister group.
evolution; genome reduction; insects; symbiosis; Buchnera
The eastern hemlock (Tsuga Canadensis) is declining in health and vigor in eastern North America due to infestation by an introduced insect, the hemlock woolly adelgid (Adelges isugue). Adelgid feeding activity results in the defoliation of hemlock forest canopy over several years. We investigated the application of Landsat satellite imagery and change-detection techniques to monitor the health of hemlock forest stands in northern New Jersey. We described methods used to correct effects due to atmospheric conditions and monitor the health status of hemlock stands over time. As hemlocks defoliate, changes occur in the spectral reflectance of the canopy in near infrared and red wavelengths—changes captured in the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index. By relating the differences in this index over time to hemlock defoliation on the ground, four classes of hemlock forest health were predicted across spatially heterogeneous landscapes with 82% accuracy. Using a time series of images, we are investigating temporal and spatial patterns in hemlock defoliation across the study area over the past decade. Based on the success of this methodology, we are no expanding out study to monitor hemlock health across the entire Mid-Atlantic region.
Adelges tsugae; change detection; defoliation; discriminant analysis; discriminating; eastern hemlock; forest; hemlock woolly adelgid; Landsat TM; remote sensing; Tsuga canadensis
The behavior and daily activity patterns of two specialist predators, Laricobius nigrinus Fender (Coleoptera: Derodontidae) and Sasajiscymnus tsugae, Sasaji and McClure (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae), and a generalist predator, Harmonia axyridis Pallas (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae), of hemlock woolly adelgid, Adelges tsugae (Hemiptera: Adelgidae), were examined using digital video recording in the laboratory. The two specialists are part of a biological control program for A. tsugae, and it is not known if competitive interactions with previously established generalist predators will negatively impact their effectiveness. The behavior and daily activity patterns of adult females of each species were documented in single- and paired-predator assays under simulated spring and summer conditions. Behavior varied qualitatively and quantitatively by species, and did not appear to be highly coordinated temporally or spatially. All species exhibited continuous activity patterns that were punctuated by longer periods of rest. Extensive and intensive searching behavior occurred in all species, with intensive searching being highly variable. Specialist predators appeared to be more selective of feeding and oviposition sites, and rested at more concealed locations than the generalist species. In spring conditions, L. nigrinus had greater activity and a more even behavior distribution than S. tsugae or H. axyridis, which were skewed towards resting. In summer, the latter two species showed increased activity at higher temperatures. Conspecifics significantly altered the time allocated to specific behaviors for L. nigrinus and H. axyridis, resulting in reduced predator effectiveness by reducing time and energy expenditure on activities that directly impact the adelgids. In contrast, S. tsugae conspecifics and all heterospecific combinations showed non-interference. The activity of each species varied with time of day; L. nigrinus was more active at night, while S. tsugae and H. axyridis were more active during the day. All predator groupings maintained a high degree of spatial separation relative to assay size. The use of multiple-predator species combinations that include the specialist predators, is recommended over single-species for biological control of A. tsugae, as temporal and spatial patterns were not highly coordinated. Low-density releases may reduce the potential negative effects of intraspecific competition.
Laricobius nigrinus; Sasajiscymnus tsugae; Harmonia axyridis; predator competition; biological control
Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (Adelges tsugae) is spreading across forests in eastern North America, causing mortality of eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis [L.] Carr.) and Carolina hemlock (Tsuga caroliniana Engelm.). The loss of hemlock from riparian forests in Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP) may result in significant physical, chemical, and biological alterations to stream environments. To assess the influence of riparian hemlock stands on stream conditions and estimate possible impacts from hemlock loss in GSMNP, we paired hardwood- and hemlock-dominated streams to examine differences in water temperature, nitrate concentrations, pH, discharge, and available photosynthetic light. We used a Geographic Information System (GIS) to identify stream pairs that were similar in topography, geology, land use, and disturbance history in order to isolate forest type as a variable. Differences between hemlock- and hardwood-dominated streams could not be explained by dominant forest type alone as forest type yields no consistent signal on measured conditions of headwater streams in GSMNP. The variability in the results indicate that other landscape variables, such as the influence of understory Rhododendron species, may exert more control on stream conditions than canopy composition. The results of this study suggest that the replacement of hemlock overstory with hardwood species will have minimal impact on long-term stream conditions, however disturbance during the transition is likely to have significant impacts. Management of riparian forests undergoing hemlock decline should, therefore, focus on facilitating a faster transition to hardwood-dominated stands to minimize long-term effects on water quality.
Tsuga Canadensis; Hemlock mortality; Hemlock Wooly Adelgid; Great Smoky Mountains National Park; GIS modeling; Stream temperature
Climate forcing is the major abiotic driver for forest ecosystem functioning and thus significantly affects the role of forests within the global carbon cycle and related ecosystem services. Annual radial increments of trees are probably the most valuable source of information to link tree growth and climate at long-term time scales, and have been used in a wide variety of investigations worldwide. However, especially in mountainous areas, tree-ring studies have focused on extreme environments where the climate sensitivity is perhaps greatest but are necessarily a biased representation of the forests within a region. We used tree-ring analyses to study two of the most important tree species growing in the Alps: Norway spruce (Picea abies) and silver fir (Abies alba). We developed tree-ring chronologies from 13 mesic mid-elevation sites (203 trees) and then compared them to monthly temperature and precipitation data for the period 1846–1995. Correlation functions, principal component analysis and fuzzy C-means clustering were applied to 1) assess the climate/growth relationships and their stationarity and consistency over time, and 2) extract common modes of variability in the species responses to mean and extreme climate variability. Our results highlight a clear, time-stable, and species-specific response to mean climate conditions. However, during the previous-year's growing season, which shows the strongest correlations, the primary difference between species is in their response to extreme events, not mean conditions. Mesic sites at mid-altitude are commonly underrepresented in tree-ring research; we showed that strong climatic controls of growth may exist even in those areas. Extreme climatic events may play a key role in defining the species-specific responses on climatic sensitivity and, with a global change perspective, specific divergent responses are likely to occur even where current conditions are less limited.
Fungi associated with the hemlock wooly adelgid, Adelges tsugae Annand (Hemiptera: Adelgidae), were collected throughout the eastern USA and southern China. Twenty fungal genera were identified, as were 79 entomopathogenic isolates, including: Lecanicillium lecanii (Zimmermann) (Hypocreales: Insertae sedis), Isaria farinosa (Holm: Fries.) (Cordycipitaceae), Beauveria bassiana (Balasamo) (Hyphomycetes), and Fusarium spp (Nectriaceae). The remaining fungal genera associated with insect cadavers were similar for both the USA and China collections, although the abundance of Acremonium (Hypocreaceae) was greater in China. The entomopathogenic isolates were assayed for efficacy against Myzus persicae (Sulzer) (Homoptera: Aphididae) and yielded mortality ranging from 3 to 92%. Ten isolates demonstrating the highest efficacy were further assessed for efficacy against field-collected A. tsugae under laboratory conditions. Overall, two B. bassiana, one L. lecanii, and a strain of Metarhizium anisopliae (Metchnikoff) (Hypocreales: Clavicipitaceae), demonstrated significantly higher efficacy against A. tsugae than the others. Isolates were further evaluated for conidial production, germination rate and colony growth at four temperatures representative of field conditions. All isolates were determined to be mesophiles with optimal temperature between 25–30° C. In general, conidial production increased with temperature, though two I. farinosa produced significantly more conidia at cooler temperatures. When efficacy values were compared with conidial production and temperature tolerances, Agricultural Research Service Collection of Entomopathogenic Fungi (ARSEF) 1080, 5170, and 5798 had characteristics comparable to the industrial B. bassiana strain GHA.
bioassay; biological control; entomogenous; mycoinsecticides; Tsuga canadensis; Tsuga caroliniana
As the largest and the basal-most family of conifers, Pinaceae provides key insights into the evolutionary history of conifers. We present comparative chloroplast genomics and analysis of concatenated 49 chloroplast protein-coding genes common to 19 gymnosperms, including 15 species from 8 Pinaceous genera, to address the long-standing controversy about Pinaceae phylogeny. The complete cpDNAs of Cathaya argyrophylla and Cedrus deodara (Abitoideae) and draft cpDNAs of Larix decidua, Picea morrisonicola, and Pseudotsuga wilsoniana are reported. We found 21- and 42-kb inversions in congeneric species and different populations of Pinaceous species, which indicates that structural polymorphics may be common and ancient in Pinaceae. Our phylogenetic analyses reveal that Cedrus is clustered with Abies–Keteleeria rather than the basal-most genus of Pinaceae and that Cathaya is closer to Pinus than to Picea or Larix–Pseudotsuga. Topology and structural change tests and indel-distribution comparisons lend further evidence to our phylogenetic finding. Our molecular datings suggest that Pinaceae first evolved during Early Jurassic, and diversification of Pinaceous subfamilies and genera took place during Mid-Jurassic and Lower Cretaceous, respectively. Using different maximum-likelihood divergences as thresholds, we conclude that 2 (Abietoideae and Larix–Pseudotsuga–Piceae–Cathaya–Pinus), 4 (Cedrus, non-Cedrus Abietoideae, Larix–Pseudotsuga, and Piceae–Cathaya–Pinus), or 5 (Cedrus, non-Cedrus Abietoideae, Larix–Pseudotsuga, Picea, and Cathaya–Pinus) groups/subfamilies are more reasonable delimitations for Pinaceae. Specifically, our views on subfamilial classifications differ from previous studies in terms of the rank of Cedrus and with recognition of more than two subfamilies.
chloroplast genome; Cedrus; Cathaya; Pesudotsuga; Pinaceae phylogeny; molecular dating
The effect of litter on seedling establishment can influence species richness in plant communities. The effect of litter depends on amount, and also on litter type, but relatively little is known about the species-specific effects of litter. We conducted a factorial greenhouse experiment to examine the effect of litter type, using two woody species that commonly co-occur in boreonemoral forest—evergreen spruce (Picea abies), deciduous hazel (Corylus avellana), and a mixture of the two species—and litter amount—shallow (4 mm), deep (12 mm) and leachate—on seedling emergence and biomass of three understorey species. The effect of litter amount on seedling emergence was highly dependent on litter type; while spruce needle litter had a significant negative effect that increased with depth, seedling emergence in the presence of hazel broadleaf litter did not differ from control pots containing no litter. Mixed litter of both species also had a negative effect on seedling emergence that was intermediate compared to the single-species treatments. Spruce litter had a marginally positive (shallow) or neutral effect (deep) on seedling biomass, while hazel and mixed litter treatments had significant positive effects on biomass that increased with depth. We found non-additive effects of litter mixtures on seedling biomass indicating that high quality hazel litter can reduce the negative effects of spruce. Hazel litter does not inhibit seedling emergence; it increases seedling growth, and creates better conditions for seedling growth in mixtures by reducing the suppressive effect of spruce litter, having a positive effect on understorey species richness.
Tree-killing bark beetles (Coleoptera, Scolytinae) are among the most economically and ecologically important forest pests in the northern hemisphere. Induction of terpenoid-based oleoresin has long been considered important in conifer defense against bark beetles, but it has been difficult to demonstrate a direct correlation between terpene levels and resistance to bark beetle colonization.
To test for inhibitory effects of induced terpenes on colonization by the spruce bark beetle Ips typographus (L.) we inoculated 20 mature Norway spruce Picea abies (L.) Karsten trees with a virulent fungus associated with the beetle, Ceratocystis polonica (Siem.) C. Moreau, and investigated induced terpene levels and beetle colonization in the bark.
Fungal inoculation induced very strong and highly variable terpene accumulation 35 days after inoculation. Trees with high induced terpene levels (n = 7) had only 4.9% as many beetle attacks (5.1 vs. 103.5 attacks m−2) and 2.6% as much gallery length (0.029 m m−2 vs. 1.11 m m−2) as trees with low terpene levels (n = 6). There was a highly significant rank correlation between terpene levels at day 35 and beetle colonization in individual trees. The relationship between induced terpene levels and beetle colonization was not linear but thresholded: above a low threshold concentration of ∼100 mg terpene g−1 dry phloem trees suffered only moderate beetle colonization, and above a high threshold of ∼200 mg terpene g−1 dry phloem trees were virtually unattacked.
This is the first study demonstrating a dose-dependent relationship between induced terpenes and tree resistance to bark beetle colonization under field conditions, indicating that terpene induction may be instrumental in tree resistance. This knowledge could be useful for developing management strategies that decrease the impact of tree-killing bark beetles.
The diameter of vascular conduits increases towards the stem base. It has been suggested that this profile is an efficient anatomical feature for reducing the hydraulic resistance when trees grow taller. However, the mechanism that controls the cell diameter along the plant is not fully understood. The timing of cell differentiation along the stem was investigated. Cambial activity and cell differentiation were investigated in a Picea abies tree (11.5 m in height) collecting microsamples at nine different heights (from 1 to 9 m) along the stem with a 4 d time interval. Wood sections (8–12 μm thick) were stained and observed under a light microscope with polarized light to differentiate the developing xylem cells. Cell wall lignification was detected using cresyl violet acetate. The first enlarging cells appeared almost simultaneously along the tree axis indicating that cambium activation is not height-dependent. A significant increase in the duration of the cell expansion phase was observed towards the tree base: at 9 m from the ground, xylem cells expanded for 7 d, at 6 m for 14 d, and at 3 m for 19 d. The duration of the expansion phase is positively correlated with the lumen area of the tracheids (r2=0.68, P < 0.01) at the same height. By contrast, thickness of the cell wall of the earlywood did not show any trend with height. The lumen area of the conduits down the stem appeared linearly dependent on time during which differentiating cells remained in the expansion phase. However, the inductive signal of such long-distance patterned differentiation remains to be identified.
Auxin; cambium; cell differentiation; conduit tapering; Picea abies polar pattern growth
Background and Aims
Our knowledge about the influences of environmental factors on tree growth is principally based on the study of dominant trees. However, tree social status may influence intra-annual dynamics of growth, leading to differential responses to environmental conditions. The aim was to determine whether within-stand differences in stem diameters of trees belonging to different crown classes resulted from variations in the length of the growing period or in the rate of cell production.
Cambial activity was monitored weekly in 2006 for three crown classes in a 40-year-old silver-fir (Abies alba) plantation near Nancy (France). Timings, duration and rate of tracheid production were assessed from anatomical observations of the developing xylem.
Cambial activity started earlier, stopped later and lasted longer in dominant trees than in intermediate and suppressed ones. The onset of cambial activity was estimated to have taken 3 weeks to spread to 90 % of the trees in the stand, while the cessation needed 6 weeks. Cambial activity was more intense in dominant trees than in intermediate and suppressed ones. It was estimated that about 75 % of tree-ring width variability was attributable to the rate of cell production and only 25 % to its duration. Moreover, growth duration was correlated to tree height, while growth rate was better correlated to crown area.
These results show that, in a closed conifer forest, stem diameter variations resulted principally from differences in the rate of xylem cell production rather than in its duration. Tree size interacts with environmental factors to control the timings, duration and rate of cambial activity through functional processes involving source–sink relationships principally, but also hormonal controls.
Cambial activity; forest-stand structure; silver fir (Abies alba); tree-ring formation; tree-to-tree competition; social status; wood anatomy; xylem cell differentiation
A multiplex real-time PCR assay was developed to monitor the dynamics of the Picea abies-Heterobasidion annosum pathosystem. Tissue cultures and 32-year-old trees with low or high resistance to this pathogen were used as the host material. Probes and primers were based on a laccase gene for the pathogen and a polyubiquitin gene for the host. The real-time PCR procedure was compared to an ergosterol-based quantification method in a tissue culture experiment, and there was a strong correlation (product moment correlation coefficient, 0.908) between the data sets. The multiplex real-time PCR procedure had higher resolution and sensitivity during the early stages of colonization and also could be used to monitor the host. In the tissue culture experiment, host DNA was degraded more rapidly in the clone with low resistance than in the clone with high resistance. In the field experiment, the lesions elicited were not strictly proportional to the area colonized by the pathogen. Fungal colonization was more restricted and localized in the lesion in the clone with high resistance, whereas in the clone with low resistance, the fungus could be detected until the visible end of the lesion. Thus, the real-time PCR assay gives better resolution than does the traditionally used lesion length measurement when screening host clones for resistance.
The role of common mycorrhizal networks (CMNs) in postfire boreal forest successional trajectories is unknown. We investigated this issue by sampling a 50-m by 40-m area of naturally regenerating black spruce (Picea mariana), trembling aspen (Populus tremuloides), and paper birch (Betula papyrifera) seedlings at various distances from alder (Alnus viridis subsp. crispa), a nitrogen-fixing shrub, 5 years after wildfire in an Alaskan interior boreal forest. Shoot biomasses and stem diameters of 4-year-old seedlings were recorded, and the fungal community associated with ectomycorrhizal (ECM) root tips from each seedling was profiled using molecular techniques. We found distinct assemblages of fungi associated with alder compared with those associated with the other tree species, making the formation of CMNs between them unlikely. However, among the spruce, aspen, and birch seedlings, there were many shared fungi (including members of the Pezoloma ericae [Hymenoscyphus ericae] species aggregate, Thelephora terrestris, and Russula spp.), raising the possibility that these regenerating seedlings may form interspecies CMNs. Distance between samples did not influence how similar ECM root tip-associated fungal communities were, and of the fungal groups identified, only one of them was more likely to be shared between seedlings that were closer together, suggesting that the majority of fungi surveyed did not have a clumped distribution across the small scale of this study. The presence of some fungal ribotypes was associated with larger or smaller seedlings, suggesting that these fungi may play a role in the promotion or inhibition of seedling growth. The fungal ribotypes associated with larger seedlings were different between spruce, aspen, and birch, suggesting differential impacts of some host-fungus combinations. One may speculate that wildfire-induced shifts in a given soil fungal community could result in variation in the growth response of different plant species after fire and a shift in regenerating vegetation.
Pathogen colonization and transcript levels of three host chitinases, putatively representing classes I, II, and IV, were monitored with real-time PCR after wounding and bark infection by Heterobasidion annosum in 32-year-old trees of Norway spruce (Picea abies) with low (clone 409) or high (clone 589) resistance to this pathogen. Three days after inoculation, comparable colonization levels were observed in both clones in the area immediately adjacent to inoculation. At 14 days after infection, pathogen colonization was restricted to the area immediately adjacent to the site of inoculation for clone 589 but had progressed further into the host tissue in clone 409. Transcript levels of the class II and IV chitinases increased after wounding or inoculation, but the transcript level of the class I chitinase declined after these treatments. Transcript levels of the class II and class IV chitinases were higher in areas immediately adjacent to the inoculation site in clone 589 than in similar sites in clone 409 3 days after inoculation. This difference was even more pronounced 2 to 6 mm away from the inoculation point, where no infection was yet established, and suggests that the clones differ in the rate of chitinase-related signal perception or transduction. At 14 days after inoculation, these transcript levels were higher in clone 409 than in clone 589, suggesting that the massive upregulation of class II and IV chitinases after the establishment of infection comes too late to reduce or prevent pathogen colonization.
Facilitation of tree establishment by ectomycorrhizal (EM) networks (MNs) may become increasingly important as drought stress increases with climate change in some forested regions of North America. The objective of this study was to determine (1) whether temperature, CO2 concentration ([CO2]), soil moisture, and MNs interact to affect plant establishment success, such that MNs facilitate establishment when plants are the most water stressed, and (2) whether transfer of C and water between plants through MNs plays a role in this. We established interior Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesiivar.glauca) seedlings in root boxes with and without the potential to form MNs with nearby conspecific seedlings that had consistent access to water via their taproots. We varied temperature, [CO2], and soil moisture in growth chambers. Douglas-fir seedling survival increased when the potential existed to form an MN. Growth increased with MN potential under the driest soil conditions, but decreased with temperature at 800 ppm [CO2]. Transfer of 13C to receiver seedlings was unaffected by potential to form an MN with donor seedlings, but deuterated water (D2O) transfer increased with MN potential under ambient [CO2]. Chlorophyll fluorescence was reduced when seedlings had the potential to form an MN under high [CO2] and cool temperatures. We conclude that Douglas-fir seedling establishment in laboratory conditions is facilitated by MN potential where Douglas-fir seedlings have consistent access to water. Moreover, this facilitation appears to increase as water stress potential increases and water transfer via networks may play a role in this. These results suggest that conservation of MN potential may be important to forest regeneration where drought stress increases with climate change.
Pseudotsuga menziesiivar.glauca(interior Douglas-fir); ectomycorrhizal network; drought; ecophysiology; CO2; climate change; competition; facilitation; stress-gradient hypothesis; plant water relations
Ectomycorrhizal fungi have been introduced in forest nurseries to improve seedling growth. Outplanting of inoculated seedlings to forest plantations raises the questions about inoculant persistence and its effects on indigenous fungal populations. We previously showed (M.-A. Selosse et al. Mol. Ecol. 7:561–573, 1998) that the American strain Laccaria bicolor S238N persisted 10 years after outplanting in a French Douglas fir plantation, without introgression or selfing and without fruiting on uninoculated adjacent plots. In the present study, the relevance of those results to sympatric strains was assessed for another part of the plantation, planted in 1985 with seedlings inoculated with the French strain L. bicolor 81306 or left uninoculated. About 720 Laccaria sp. sporophores, collected from 1994 to 1997, were typed by using randomly amplified polymorphic DNA markers and PCR amplification of the mitochondrial and nuclear ribosomal DNAs. All plots were colonized by small spontaneous discrete genotypes (genets). The inoculant strain 81306 abundantly fruited beneath inoculated trees, with possible introgression in indigenous Laccaria populations but without selfing. In contrast to our previous survey of L. bicolor S238N, L. bicolor 81306 colonized a plot of uninoculated trees. Meiotic segregation analysis verified that the invading genet was strain 81306 (P < 0.00058), implying a vegetative growth of 1.1 m · year−1. This plot was also invaded in 1998 by strain S238N used to inoculate other trees of the plantation. Five other uninoculated plots were free of these inoculant strains. The fate of inoculant strains thus depends less on their geographic origin than on unknown local factors.
A fungal epizootic in populations of Fiorinia externa Ferris (Hemiptera: Diaspididae) infesting hemlock trees, Tsuga canadensis (L.) Carrière (Pinales: Pinaceae) in forests of the Northeastern US has been recently detected. The current known distribution of the epizootic spans 36 sites in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Connecticut. Colletotrichum acutatum Simmonds var. fioriniae Marcelino and Gouli var. nov. inedit. (Phyllachorales: Phyllachoraceae) was the most prevalent fungus recovered from infected scales. Bioassays indicated that this C. acutatum variety is highly pathogenic to F. externa. Mortality rates of >90 and >55% were obtained for F. externa crawlers and settlers, respectively. Significantly lower mortality levels, ≤ 22%, were obtained when three other species of insects were assayed. C. gleosporioides has also been shown to have pathogenic activity towards a scale insect. The data suggest that C. acutatum var. fioriniae from F. externa epizootics in the US, and the previously reported C. gloeosporioides f. sp. ortheziidae causing Orthezia praelonga epizootics in Brazil, may constitute distinct biotypes of Colletotrichum that have attained the ability to infect insects in addition to the commonly reported plant hosts.
fungal epizootic; Tsuga canadensis; Orthezia praelonga
Long-term, concurrent measurement of population dynamics and associated top-down and bottom-up processes are rare for unmanipulated, terrestrial systems. Here, we analyse populations of moose, their predators (wolves, Canis lupus), their primary winter forage (balsam fir, Abies balsamea) and several climatic variables that were monitored for 40 consecutive years in Isle Royale National Park (544 km2), Lake Superior, USA. We judged the relative importance of top-down, bottom-up and abiotic factors on moose population growth rate by constructing multiple linear regression models, and calculating the proportion of interannual variation in moose population growth rate explained by each factor. Our analysis indicates that more variation in population growth rate is explained by bottom-up than top-down processes, and abiotic factors explain more variation than do bottom-up processes. Surprisingly, winter precipitation did not explain any significant variation in population growth rate. Like that detected for two Norwegian ungulate populations, the relationship between population growth rate and the North Atlantic Oscillation was nonlinear. Although this analysis provides significant insight, much remains unknown: of the models examined, the most parsimonious explain little more than half the variation in moose population growth rate.
Stand-replacing fires influence soil nitrogen availability and microbial community composition, which may in turn mediate post-fire successional dynamics and nutrient cycling. However, fires create patchiness at both local and landscape scales and do not result in consistent patterns of ecological dynamics. The objectives of this study were to (1) quantify the spatial structure of microbial communities in forest stands recently affected by stand-replacing fire and (2) determine whether microbial variables aid predictions of in situ net nitrogen mineralization rates in recently burned stands. The study was conducted in lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta var. latifolia) and Engelmann spruce/subalpine fir (Picea engelmannii/Abies lasiocarpa) forest stands that burned during summer 2000 in Greater Yellowstone (Wyoming, USA). Using a fully probabilistic spatial process model and Bayesian kriging, the spatial structure of microbial lipid abundance and fungi-to-bacteria ratios were found to be spatially structured within plots two years following fire (for most plots, autocorrelation range varied from 1.5 to 10.5 m). Congruence of spatial patterns among microbial variables, in situ net N mineralization, and cover variables was evident. Stepwise regression resulted in significant models of in situ net N mineralization and included variables describing fungal and bacterial abundance, although explained variance was low (R2<0.29). Unraveling complex spatial patterns of nutrient cycling and the biotic factors that regulate it remains challenging but is critical for explaining post-fire ecosystem function, especially in Greater Yellowstone, which is projected to experience increased fire frequencies by mid 21st Century.
Small non-coding RNAs (sRNAs) play key roles in plant development, growth and responses to biotic and abiotic stresses. At least four classes of sRNAs have been well characterized in plants, including repeat-associated siRNAs (rasiRNAs), microRNAs (miRNAs), trans-acting siRNAs (tasiRNAs) and natural antisense transcript-derived siRNAs. Chinese fir (Cunninghamia lanceolata) is one of the most important coniferous evergreen tree species in China. No sRNA from Chinese fir has been described to date.
To obtain sRNAs in Chinese fir, we sequenced a sRNA library generated from seeds, seedlings, leaves, stems and calli, using Illumina high throughput sequencing technology. A comprehensive set of sRNAs were acquired, including conserved and novel miRNAs, rasiRNAs and tasiRNAs. With BLASTN and MIREAP we identified a total of 115 conserved miRNAs comprising 40 miRNA families and one novel miRNA with precursor sequence. The expressions of 16 conserved and one novel miRNAs and one tasiRNA were detected by RT-PCR. Utilizing real time RT-PCR, we revealed that four conserved and one novel miRNAs displayed developmental stage-specific expression patterns in Chinese fir. In addition, 209 unigenes were predicted to be targets of 30 Chinese fir miRNA families, of which five target genes were experimentally verified by 5' RACE, including a squamosa promoter-binding protein gene, a pentatricopeptide (PPR) repeat-containing protein gene, a BolA-like family protein gene, AGO1 and a gene of unknown function. We also demonstrated that the DCL3-dependent rasiRNA biogenesis pathway, which had been considered absent in conifers, existed in Chinese fir. Furthermore, the miR390-TAS3-ARF regulatory pathway was elucidated.
We unveiled a complex population of sRNAs in Chinese fir through high throughput sequencing. This provides an insight into the composition and function of sRNAs in Chinese fir and sheds new light on land plant sRNA evolution.
Chinese fir; miRNA; rasiRNA; tasiRNA; Cunninghamia lanceolata
Sphaeronema sasseri n. sp. is described from Fraser fir and red spruce on Mount Mitchell in North Carolina. Females are distinguished from other species in the genus by body shape, occurrence of body annulations, stylet morphology, head shape, and by several morphometric characters. The nematodes occur in colonies surrounding the bases of lateral and feeder roots, and the infected tissues show a general breakdown of the cortex and bark. The roots appear to be severely damaged by high populations of nematodes. This parasite may be important in the etiology of the slow decline of spruce and fir that has occurred in recent years in the southern Appalachian Mountains.
taxonomy; scanning electron microscopy; spruce decline; fir decline
Tree-ring width, wood density, anatomical structure and 13C/12C ratios expressed as δ13C-values of whole wood of Picea abies were investigated for trees growing in closed canopy forest stands. Samples were collected from the alpine Renon site in North Italy, the lowland Hainich site in Central Germany and the boreal Flakaliden site in North Sweden. In addition, Pinus cembra was studied at the alpine site and Pinus sylvestris at the boreal site. The density profiles of tree rings were measured using the DENDRO-2003 densitometer, δ13C was measured using high-resolution laser-ablation-combustion-gas chromatography-infra-red mass spectrometry and anatomical characteristics of tree rings (tracheid diameter, cell-wall thickness, cell-wall area and cell-lumen area) were measured using an image analyzer. Based on long-term statistics, climatic variables, such as temperature, precipitation, solar radiation and vapor pressure deficit, explained <20% of the variation in tree-ring width and wood density over consecutive years, while 29–58% of the variation in tree-ring width were explained by autocorrelation between tree rings. An intensive study of tree rings between 1999 and 2003 revealed that tree ring width and δ13C-values of whole wood were significantly correlated with length of the growing season, net radiation and vapor pressure deficit. The δ13C-values were not correlated with precipitation or temperature. A highly significant correlation was also found between δ13C of the early wood of one year and the late wood of the previous year, indicating a carry-over effect of the growing conditions of the previous season on current wood production. This latter effect may explain the high autocorrelation of long-term tree-ring statistics. The pattern, however, was complex, showing stepwise decreases as well as stepwise increases in the δ13C between late wood and early wood. The results are interpreted in the context of the biochemistry of wood formation and its linkage to storage products. It is clear that the relations between δ13C and tree-ring width and climate are multi-factorial in seasonal climates.
Dendrochonology; Carbohydrate storage; Picea abies; Pinus cembra; Pinus sylvestris; Tracheid lumen area; Wood density