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Getting at the root of mountain pine beetle's rapid habitat expansion

Date:
April 22, 2014
Source:
Molecular Biology and Evolution (Oxford University Press)
Summary:
The mountain pine beetle has wreaked havoc in North America, across forests from the American Southwest to British Columbia and Alberta, with the potential to spread all the way to the Atlantic coast. Using a newly sequenced beetle genome, authors examined how the pine beetle could undergo such rapid habitat range expansion.
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The mountain pine beetle has wreaked havoc in North America, across forests from the American Southwest to British Columbia and Alberta, with the potential to spread all the way to the Atlantic coast. Millions of acres of forest have been lost, with severe economic and ecological impacts from a beetle outbreak ten times larger than previous outbreaks.

Because of its importance and impact on forestry, the mountain pine beetle's genome has been recently sequenced. Using this new resource, authors Janes, et.al. examined how the pine beetle could undergo such rapid habitat range expansion, and if population genetics and the cataloguing of genome wide mutations could shed any light on possible molecular causes of the outbreak. From beetles collected at 27 sites in Alberta and British Columbia, they looked for any patterns amongst their catalog of 1536 mutations (single-nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNPs).

They found several candidate genetic markers and conclude that the mountain pine beetle may have been able to spread by adjusting its cellular and metabolic functions to better withstand cooler climates and facilitate a larger geographic dispersal area. Such information could give important new clues for the forestry industry to help curb the current devastation of North American forests from this pest.


Story Source:

The above post is reprinted from materials provided by Molecular Biology and Evolution (Oxford University Press). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. J. K. Janes, Y. Li, C. I. Keeling, M. M. Yuen, C. K. Boone, J. E. Cooke, J. Bohlmann, D. P. Huber, B. W. Murray, D. W. Coltman, F. A. Sperling. How the mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae) breached the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Molecular Biology and Evolution, 2014; DOI: 10.1093/molbev/msu135

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Molecular Biology and Evolution (Oxford University Press). "Getting at the root of mountain pine beetle's rapid habitat expansion." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 April 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140422202315.htm>.
Molecular Biology and Evolution (Oxford University Press). (2014, April 22). Getting at the root of mountain pine beetle's rapid habitat expansion. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 29, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140422202315.htm
Molecular Biology and Evolution (Oxford University Press). "Getting at the root of mountain pine beetle's rapid habitat expansion." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140422202315.htm (accessed July 29, 2015).

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