Scientists from Université Laval, the University of British Columbia and the University of Oxford have discovered a natural resistance gene against spruce budworm in the white spruce. The breakthrough, reported in The Plant Journal, paves the way to identifying and selecting naturally resistant trees to replant forests devastated by the destructive pest.
A research team composed of professors Éric Bauce, Joerg Bohlmann and John Mackay as well as their students and postdocs discovered the gene in spruces that had remained relatively undamaged by a local budworm outbreak.
The scientists compared the genomes of the more resilient trees and those that suffered substantial damage. "We measured expression levels of nearly 24,000 genes in the two groups of trees, explains Professor Mackay. We discovered a gene, betaglucosidase-1, whose expression in the needles of resistant spruce trees is up to 1,000 times higher than in non-resistant trees."
Postdoctoral scientist Melissa Mageroy then produced the protein encoded by the gene. Tests showed that the protein plays an essential part in chemical reactions resulting in the production of two compounds that are toxic to the budworm, piceol and pungenol, identified in 2011 by a research team supervised by Dr. Éric Bauce. "We could say the gene we discovered produces natural insecticides in the tree foliage," sums up Dr. Mackay.
The resistance gene is present in all white spruces, but is expressed to varying degrees. "Theoretically, we could create white spruce stands that are less vulnerable to the budworm by reforesting areas with plantings from trees with a high expression of the resistance gene," says postdoctoral fellow and study coauthor Geneviève Parent.
Université Laval and University of British Columbia researchers have partnered with Quebec's Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs and the British Columbia Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations to evaluate applications of their discoveries.
The spruce budworm is a moth whose caterpillar feeds primarily on balsam fir and white spruce needles. It is the most devastating insect to coniferous stands in Eastern North America. The last major outbreak that took place between 1970 and 1990 caused an estimated loss of half a billion cubic meters of wood in the province of Quebec alone, roughly the equivalent of 15 years of harvesting. Since 2003, the total affected forest area has been increasing steadily. Related caterpillars are affecting other types of conifer trees across Canada.
The study's coauthors are: Geneviève Parent, Gaby Germanos, Isabelle Giguère, Nathalie Delvas, Halim Maaroufi, and Éric Bauce (Université Laval); John Mackay (Université Laval and University of Oxford); Melissa Mageroy and Joerg Bohlmann (University of British Columbia). The research was supported by Genome Canada, Genome Québec, Genome British Columbia, the iFor Research Consortium and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.
Jean-François Huppé | EurekAlert!
New research recovers nutrients from seafood process water
31.10.2018 | Chalmers University of Technology
Plant Hormone Makes Space Farming a Possibility
17.10.2018 | Universität Zürich
Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.
Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...
Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.
Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...
Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.
In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...
On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.
When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure
Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...
09.11.2018 | Event News
06.11.2018 | Event News
23.10.2018 | Event News
16.11.2018 | Health and Medicine
16.11.2018 | Life Sciences
16.11.2018 | Life Sciences