2011-01-26

Genome of blue stain fungus evolved to bypass tree defense in mountain pine beetle epidemic: UBC research

The genome of the fungus that helps mountain pine beetles infect and kill lodgepole pines has been decoded in a University of British Columbia study.

Also known as blue stain fungus for the stain it leaves in the wood of infected trees, Grosmannia clavigera is carried to the host trees by pine beetles and weakens the trees’ natural defense system, allowing pine beetles to feed and reproduce in the tree bark. A successful beetle-fungus attack ultimately causes tree death.

Now, researchers from UBC and the BC Cancer Agency’s Genome Sciences Centre have 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.