Spruce Up: Researchers Pinpoint Genes That Give Pine-Killing Fungus Immunity to Host Tree Defenses

Wednesday, January 26, 2011 - 07:00 in Biology & Nature

In western North America the mountain pine beetle --the most destructive of the many species collectively known as bark beetles--is on a pine tree–killing spree. Since the 1990s swarms of the tiny killer, spurred in part by a streak of relatively mild winters that don't kill the insect, along with dry summers that leave trees more vulnerable to attack, have destroyed huge swaths of pine forests--around 16 million hectares (an area larger than Florida) in British Columbia alone. The beetles are now threatening to move eastward, and research ecologists are working to rapidly build a better understanding of exactly how insect invasion kills trees, searching for insights that might allow forestry workers better cope with the epidemic. [More]

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