Protecting American pine forests: Are unknown pathogens hiding in Asia?
To determine if harmful invasions can be effectively predicted and prevented, symbiotic fungi of beetles in Asia were evaluated for pathogenicity to American trees. Beetles were collected in China and Thailand, where their symbiotic fungi were isolated from the beetles. Literature suggests these fungi could be pathogenic to pines (Pinus) in the southeast US. The fungal isolates, separated from their beetle vector, were tested for pathogenicity on the most economically and ecologically important pines in the southeast (loblolly, slash, longleaf) by inoculation in a quarantine facility. Data are being collected at the time of submitting this abstract. This project will test the feasibility of assessing the invasion potential of not-yet-established insects and fungi and will offer a route for regulatory agencies to effectively protect one of the most valuable commodities in the southeast: pines.