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Root-feeding beetles and Leptographium and Grosmannia blue-stain fungi in loblolly pine stands with differing management practices

Megan Buland: D.B. Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of Georgia

<div><em>Leptographium</em> and <em>Grosmannia</em> fungal species and their root-feeding beetle vectors (<em>Hylastes, Hylobius </em>and<em> Pachylobius</em> spp) have been associated with areas of loblolly pine mortality in Alabama and Georgia. However, the exact species composition, and in particular the frequency of association of individual fungal species with each vector, have yet to be identified. Objectives of our study are to: 1) determine the phenology of loblolly pine root-feeding beetles in Georgia, 2) assess the frequency of association of <em>Leptographium</em> and <em>Grosmannia</em> spp associated with these beetles, and 3) analyze whether this association varies in stands with differing management practices and across seasons. Root-feeding beetles were collected in two loblolly pine stands that were either regularly prescribed burned or unburned. Individual specimens were used to isolate and identify associated fungi. Species-specific PCR primers were developed for each target fungal species identified and a subset of beetles will be tested to determine the frequency of association of individual fungal species with their vectors. Preliminary results show significant variation across the seasons in the catches of <em>H. pales, </em>the most abundant beetle species. Beetles catches in the burned site were higher compared to the unburned site. Fungal species currently recovered include <em>L. procerum, G. alacris</em>, and<em> G. huntii</em>. This study is a first step to facilitate future research into these beetles/fungi complexes.</div>