Competition between a biological control fungus, Ophiostoma piliferum, and symbionts of the southern pine beetle
A colorless isolate of O. piliferum was paired in a series of competitive interactions with three fungal symbionts of Dendroctonus frontalis, the southern pine beetle. Two of these fungi, Ceratocystiopsis ranaculosus and Entomocorticium sp. A, are considered to be mutualists of the southern pine beetle.The third fungal symbiont, O. minus, is considered to be an antagonist. I found strong evidence of differential competition between O. piliferum and all three symbionts. In primary and secondary resource capture contests on an artificial medium O. piliferum outcompeted all three fungi. In inoculations of natural substrate, O. piliferum outcompeted the two mutualists but did not outcompete O. minus. The ability of O. piliferum to outcompete beetle mutualists on both artificial and natural substrates indicates promise for this fungus as a biological control agent of the southern pine beetle. However, it may not be able to always prevent colonization by O. minus and the resultant discoloration of colonized wood.
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