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J Insect Sci. 2011;11:158. doi: 10.1673/031.011.15801.

Two novel techniques to screen Abies seedlings for resistance to the balsam woolly adelgid, Adelges piceae.

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Department of Entomology, North Carolina State University, Box 7626, Raleigh, NC 27695, USA.


Since its introduction into the Southern Appalachians in the 1950s, the balsam woolly adelgid, Adelges piceae Ratzeburg (Hemiptera: Adelgidae), has devastated native populations of Fraser fir, Abies fraseri (Pursh) Poir. (Pinales: Pinaceae), and has become a major pest in Christmas tree plantations requiring expensive chemical treatments. Adelges piceae-resistant Fraser fir trees would lessen costs for the Christmas tree industry and assist in the restoration of native stands. Resistance screening is an important step in this process. Here, four studies directed toward the development of time- and cost-efficient techniques for screening are reported. In the first study, three methods to artificially infest seedlings of different ages were evaluated in a shade-covered greenhouse. Two-year-old seedlings had much lower infestation levels than 7 year-old seedlings. Placing infested bark at the base of the seedling was less effective than tying infested bark to the seedling or suspending infested bolts above the seedling. Although the two latter techniques resulted in similar densities on the seedlings, they each have positive and negative considerations. Attaching bark to uninfested trees is effective, but very time consuming. The suspended bolt method mimics natural infestation and is more economical than attaching bark, but care must be taken to ensure an even distribution of crawlers falling onto the seedlings. The second study focused on the density and distribution of crawlers falling from suspended bolts onto paper gridded into 7.6 × 7.6 cm cells. Crawler density in a 30 cm band under and to each side of the suspended bolt ranged from 400 to over 3000 crawlers per cell (1 to 55 crawlers per cm²). In the third study, excised branches from 4 year-old A. fraseri and A. vetchii seedlings were artificially infested with A. piceae to determine whether this technique may be useful for early resistance screening. The excised A. fraseri branches supported complete adelgid development (crawler to egg-laying adult), and very little adelgid development occurred on A. vetchii branches. The fourth study compared infestation levels and gouting response on excised versus intact branches of 4 year-old A. fraseri seedlings from three different seed sources, and excised branches from 4 year-old and 25 year-old trees. There were no differences in infestation levels between excised versus intact branches nor in very young versus mature trees; gouting response was observed only on intact branches.

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