Temporal variation in contamination of pine engraver beetles with Fusarium circinatum in native Monterey pine forests in California

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The relative importance of beetle species associated with Fusarium circinatum-infected Monterey pines was investigated in three Monterey pine forests along the coast of central California, USA from April to November in 2004 and 2005. Fusarium circinatum was frequently isolated from Ips mexicanus and I. plastographus. The mean percentage isolation based upon numbers of I. mexicanus and I. plastographus carrying propagules of F. circinatum was 17·7 and 10·9% in 2004 and 16·7 and 17·3% in 2005, respectively. The mean percentage isolation was high in the spring and early summer and low in late summer and autumn in all three locations for both species. Isolation was higher from beetles emerging from harvested F. circinatum-infected pine-stems than for trapped beetles, 42·4% for I. mexicanus and 45·9% for I. plastographus. The mean (± SE) propagule load of trapped I. mexicanus was 269·5 (± 14·1) in 2004 and 281·7 (± 35·7) in 2005 and was 216·1 (± 28·9) in 2004 and 251·9 (± 28·4) in 2005 for I. plastographus. Mean propagule loads decreased from May to November in all locations for both species. Propagule loads of beetles emerged from infected stems were lower than that of trapped beetles, with means of 89·4 (± 23·2) and 93·0 (± 23·2) for I. mexicanus and I. plastographus, respectively. Thus beetles must acquire fungal propagules from more than one infected host. These results also suggest that higher contamination rates and propagule loads in spring and early summer may indicate a higher risk of pitch canker transmission, relative to late summer or autumn.

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