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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: New Strategies for Management of Invasive Ambrosia Beetles in Horticultural and Nursery Crops

Location: Application Technology Research

Title: Book review of advances in insect physiology: pine bark beetles

Author
item Ranger, Christopher

Submitted to: Quarterly Review of Biology
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/9/2017
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Bark beetles are responsibel for killing millions of trees in the Northern Hemisphere. This volume provides an interdisciplinary review on aspects of bark beetle physiology, especially how it relates to selecting, colonizing, and surviving in host trees. There are seven chapters that summarize decades of research and synthesize it with cutting-edge research findings under the unifying theme of suppressing future outbreaks. The stage is set by Raffa et al. as they provide a sequential perspective how bark beetles embark on a risky endeavor to make themselves a new home in the midst of hostile chemical defenses. Huber and Robert proceed with a comprehensive description of key physiological events involved during the early stages of colonization, followed by mechanisms that help bark beetles survive within their hosts through cold winter months. Keeling expands upon using genomic tools to gain insight into how bark beetles have adapted to their inhospitable host tree environment. Given the important role of pheromones for finding mates and host trees, antennal responses to attractants and repellents are described in the first chapter; three subsequent chapters are devoted to physiological aspects of these chemical messengers. Tittiger and Blomquist describe the latest views on pheromone production while Symonds and Gitau-Clarke provide an evolutionary perspective of pheromone diversity. Sullivan summarily brings more than 50 years of research on the southern pine beetle into historical perspective regarding attractants and repellents. Yet, the challenges with managing this pest using alternatives to synthetic insecticides is revealed by the somewhat dispiriting acknowledgement that despite valiant efforts no semiochemical-based strategies are commonly used that integrate attractants and repellents. As a further testament to the difficulty in managing bark beetle outbreaks, Tittiger and Blomquist note that distilling what’s known about bark beetle pheromone production into control tactics remains as “a huge challenge”. As climate change is facilitating bark beetle range and host expansion, Janes and Batista describe how genomic tools can assist with characterizing the influence of abiotic and biotic factors on population genetic structure and perhaps lead to novel management tactics. Details provided by the authors on DNA-based methods will undoubtedly benefit students and researchers. The volume’s figures and tables are informative, but it is unfortunate that color images were included in an appendix instead of replacing the black and white images embedded within each chapter. Overall, these reviews will be valuable to students and researchers seeking fundamental information about these devastating insects. Hopefully existing knowledge can be implemented in such a way to stem the tide of future bark beetle outbreaks, but to some extent it has the appearance of trying to put out a forest fire with a garden hose.

Technical Abstract: If not the most destructive forest pest, bark beetles are probably a close second in their culpability for killing millions of trees in the Northern Hemisphere. This volume provides an aptly-timed interdisciplinary review on aspects of bark beetle physiology, especially how it relates to selecting, colonizing, and surviving in host trees. There are seven chapters that summarize decades of research and synthesize it with cutting-edge research findings under the unifying theme of suppressing future outbreaks. The stage is set by Raffa et al. as they provide a sequential perspective how bark beetles embark on a risky endeavor to make themselves a new home through a “near-total investment in single hosts” with hostile chemical defenses. Huber and Robert proceed with a comprehensive description of key physiological events involved during the early stages of colonization, followed by mechanisms that help bark beetles survive within their hosts through cold winter months. Keeling expands upon using genomic tools to gain insight into how bark beetles have adapted to their inhospitable host tree environment. Given the important role of pheromones for finding mates and host trees, the neurophysiology of olfactory responses to host-derived volatiles and beetle-derived pheromones is astutely described in the first chapter; three subsequent chapters are devoted to physiological aspects of these chemical messengers. Tittiger and Blomquist describe the latest views on pheromone production via metabolic pathways by highlighting contemporary evidence for the de novo biosynthesis of pheromones over initial propositions from the 1970s that they arose from plant-derived precursors. An evolutionary perspective of pheromone diversity is provided by Symonds and Gitau-Clarke under the caveat that a capacity to rapidly change pheromone composition could have important implications for management tactics. Sullivan summarily brings more than 50 years of research on the southern pine beetle into historical perspective regarding the role of semiochemicals. Yet, the challenges with managing this pest using alternatives to synthetic insecticides is revealed by the somewhat dispiriting acknowledgement that despite valiant efforts no semiochemical-based strategies are commonly used that integrate attractants and repellents. As a further testament to the difficulty in managing bark beetle outbreaks, Tittiger and Blomquist note that distilling what’s known about bark beetle pheromone production into control tactics remains as “a huge challenge”. As climate change is facilitating range and host expansion, Janes and Batista describe how genomic tools can assist with characterizing the influence of abiotic and biotic factors on population genetic structure and perhaps lead to novel management tactics. Details provided by the authors on DNA-based methods will undoubtedly benefit students and researchers. The volume’s figures and tables are informative, but it is unfortunate that color images were included in an appendix instead of replacing the black and white images embedded within each chapter. Overall, these reviews will be valuable to students and researchers seeking fundamental information about these devastating insects. Hopefully existing knowledge can be implemented in such a way to stem the tide of future bark beetle outbreaks, but to some extent it has the appearance of trying to put out a forest fire with a garden hose.

Last Modified: 09/25/2017
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