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Intraspecific variation in Fraxinus pennsylvanica responses to emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis)

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New Forests


The emerald ash borer (EAB; Agrilus planipennis Fairmaire) is a bark and wood boring beetle native to east Asia that was first discovered in North America in 2002. Since then, entire stands of highly susceptible green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica Marshall) have been killed within a few years of infestation. We have identified a small number of mature green ash trees which have been attacked by EAB, yet survived the peak EAB infestation that resulted in mortality of the rest of the ash cohort. Adult landing and feeding preference bioassays, leaf volatile quantification and EAB egg bioassay experiments were used to characterize potential differences in responses of these select "lingering" green ash trees relative to known EAB susceptible controls. Three selections were identified as being significantly less preferred for adult feeding, but no specific leaf volatile profile was associated with this reduced preference. Egg bioassays identified two ash selections that had significant differences in larval survival and development; one having a higher number of larvae killed by apparent host tree defenses and the other having lower larval weight. Correlation and validation of the bioassay results in replicated plantings to assess EAB resistance in the field is still necessary. However, the differences between lingering ash selections and susceptible controls measured by these bioassays indicate that more than one mechanism is responsible for the increased resistance to EAB that resulted in these selections surviving longer than their counterparts. Efforts to further increase ash resistance to EAB through use of these selections in a breeding program are underway.


Insect resistance; Green ash; Host plant resistance; Defense


Koch, J.L.; Carey, D.W.; Mason, M.E.; Poland, T.M.; Knight, K.S. 2015. Intraspecific variation in Fraxinus pennsylvanica responses to emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis). New Forests. 46(5-6): 995-1011.

Last updated on: September 5, 2018