Researchers at the University of British Columbia have decoded the genome of the fungus that helps mountain pine beetles infect and kill lodgepole pines.
Grosmannia clavigera, also known as blue stain fungus for the stain it leaves in the wood of infected trees, is carried to the host trees by pine beetles. It weakens the tree's natural defence system, which allows pine beetles to feed and reproduce in the tree bark. A successful beetle-fungus attack ultimately causes tree death.
Researchers from UBC and the B.C. Cancer Agency's Genome Sciences Centre conducted a detailed genome analysis and identified genes in Grosmannia clavigera that are responsible for the fungus's ability to bypass the lodgepole pine's natural fungicide — and use it as a carbon source for fungal growth.