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Water stress affects Tomicus destruens host pine preference and performance during the shoot feeding phase


  • • The effect of water stress on host selection and performance during the shoot feeding phase, by the Mediterranean pine shoot beetle Tomicus destruens, was studied.

  • • Young potted Pinus pinaster plants were subjected to two water supply regimes: (i) well watered; (ii) 4–5 months of moderate drought stress. Plant volatile organic compound (VOCs) emissions were collected by SPME and analysed by GC/MS.

  • • In tests with paired plants, the number of holes and tunnels excavated by beetles in well watered pines was significantly larger than in stressed plants, whereas in no-choice tests no differences occurred.

  • • Beetle survival was significantly higher on well watered, than on stressed pines (p = 0.006), while fat contents also increased (p = 0.09).

  • • Plants could be assigned to treatments based on VOCs emissions, stressed pines emitting more myrcene and less β-pinene than well watered ones.

  • • It is concluded that during the shoot feeding phase, T. destruens preferentially attacks non-stressed plants, in detriment of stressed ones, upon which a higher fitness is attained.

  • • The role of pines VOCs emissions under moderate drought stress, in the host selection and colonization process by the pine shoot beetle, is discussed.


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Correspondence to Manuela Branco.

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Branco, M., Pereira, J.S., Mateus, E. et al. Water stress affects Tomicus destruens host pine preference and performance during the shoot feeding phase. Ann. For. Sci. 67, 608 (2010).

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