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Mushroom could help fight pine beetle

Natasha Kumar By Natasha Kumar Jan26,2024

A fungus could help in the fight against the pine beetle

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The pine beetle measures between 4 to 7.5 mm, but despite its small size it is one of the most destructive insects of mature pine forests in North America.

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Researchers at the University of Alberta have discovered that a fungus could make trees resistant to mountain pine beetles, a small insect that causes great damage. The only problem is that this fungus also causes significant damage to infected trees.

Atropella canker, a fungus found mainly in western Canada, has the potential to create harmful toxins on an infected tree to pine beetles.

In general, an infection of this fungus causes a change in the tree's defense system, explains one of the study's co-authors, Rashaduz Zaman. In most cases, the infection will make the tree more vulnerable to attack by insects and diseases.

Of five mushrooms studied, four reduced the resistance of Alberta lodgepole pines to pine beetles.

However, the atropellian canker proved, during the study, to be effective in making the pine more resistant to attacks by the small wood-boring insect, which has already ravaged tens of millions of hectares of Canadian forest .

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The small beetle is capable of piercing the bark of trees and extracting the layer between the bark and the wood. One of the signs of the presence of the insect is the reddish color of the pine needles. The photo was taken near Hinton, east of Edmonton, in 2019.

Atropellian canker is a fungus that attacks the trunk of trees. According to Natural Resources Canada, it can cause the death of the tree and is particularly present after forest fires.

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Mr. Zaman believes that the results of their research are rather a starting point for developing a forest management system and limiting the devastation caused by the insect.

It is therefore not a question of infecting parts of an entire forest with this potentially deadly fungus in order to increase its resistance to small beetles.

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Atropella canker can cause slow growth of the tree, and even its death. Infection is fatal when stems are surrounded by large cankers.

The results (New window) (in English) rather show that it would be possible to identify the chemical profile of trees resistant to the insect, specifies the doctoral candidate in forest biology, by analyzing trees infected with atropella canker.

This is an interesting development, according to forest pathology professor Richard Hamelin at the University of British Columbia.

According to him, if it becomes possible to identify less resistant trees, it would be conceivable to use pheromone traps to try to attract insects towards these trees, then perhaps sacrifice these trees.

He therefore sees it as a way of managing the spread of the insect.

There is no way to eliminate the pine beetle, says forest health specialist Jakub Olesinski of Parks Canada.

Pesticides are simply not effective. They cannot be used to control them.

A quote from Jakub Olesinski, forest health specialist for Parks Canada

For the professor, who also wears the hat of director of the department of conservation and forest sciences at the University of British Columbia, although it is an interesting study, we are really far from applications in reality.

The tree's defense system having been studied during an attack by the fungus, it is difficult, according to him, to identify which tree has the profile to be resistant to insects before the atropellian canker begins to occur. damage.

Then, when there is an attack, it' is often too late.

A quote from Richard Hamelin, professor of forest pathology at the University of British Columbia

The authors of the study still raised the idea of ​​being able to develop a diagnostic tool.

Rashaduz Zaman believes that it would be possible to detect which trees could be infected years before the fungus attacks its trunk. As with humans, when they have some symptoms, they get tested by doctors.

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Natasha Kumar

By Natasha Kumar

Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my 1-800-268-7116

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