The contribution of genetics and genomics to understanding the ecology of the mountain pine beetle system

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  • Environmental change is altering forest insect dynamics worldwide. As these systems change, they pose significant
    ecological, social, and economic risk through, for example, the loss of valuable habitat, green space, and timber. Our understanding of such systems is often limited by the complexity of multiple interacting taxa. As a consequence, studies assessing the ecology, physiology, and genomics of each key organism in such systems are increasingly important for developing appropriate management strategies. Here we summarize the genetic and genomic contributions made by the TRIA project — a long-term study of the mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae Hopkins) system encompassing beetle, fungi, and pine. Contributions include genetic and genomic resources for species identification, sex determination, detection of selection, functional genetic analysis, mating system confirmation, hybrid stability tests, and integrated genetic studies of multiple taxa. These resources and subsequent findings have accelerated our understanding of the mountain pine beetle system, facilitating improved management strategies (e.g., enhancements to stand susceptibility indices and predictive models) and highlighting mechanisms for promoting resilient forests. Further, work from the TRIA project serves as a model for the increasing number and severity of invasive and native forest insect outbreaks globally (e.g., Dutch elm disease and thousand cankers disease).

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    Article (Published)
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    Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International
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    • Cullingham, C.I., Janes, J.K., Hamelin, R.C., James, P.M., Murray, B.W., Sperling, F.A. 2019. The contribution of genetics and genomics to understanding the ecology of the mountain pine beetle system. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 49(7): 721-730.