Semiochemicals From Fungal Associates of Bark Beetles May Mediate Host Location Behavior of Parasitoids
In laboratory olfactometer bioassays, females of two hymenopteran parasitoid species, Roptrocerus xylophagorum (Ratzeburg) (Hymenoptera: Pteromalidae) and Spathius pallidus (Ashmead) (Hymenoptera: Braconidae), were attracted to odors from bark or bolts of loblolly pine, Pinus taeda L., colonized by bluestain fungi (genus Ophiostoma) associated with the parasitoids' bark beetle hosts. Mock-inoculated bolts and bark were less attractive or unattractive in these bioassays. Bark infested with host larvae that lacked their fungal and other normal microbial associates was attractive to R. xylophugorum females, but was less so than bark infested with larvae possessing their normal complement of associated microbes. In contrast, in oviposition bioassays, R. xylophagorum females spent approximately equal time searching, made similar numbers of oviposition attempts, parasitized similar percentages of hosts, and laid similar numbers of eggs in bark fragments infested with either associate-free or associate-bearing host larvae. Furthermore, in field bioassays using bluestain-inoculated or mock-inoculated loblolly pine bolts as sources of attractants, the numbers of parasitoids attracted by the two treatments did not differ significantly and the two treatments were less attractive than bolts naturally infested with bark beetle larvae. Whereas our laboratory olfactometer data suggest that bark beetle fungal associates may enhance attraction of some parasitoids, our bioassays with associate-free hosts indicate that associate-produced are not required for short-range host location and parasitization. In addition, our field trials indicated that long-range attraction of parasitoids to the host-fungi-tree complex is not caused simply by an interaction between bluestain fungi and tree tissues.
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