Akif Eskalen, Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology;
Richard Stouthamer, Department of Entomology;
Shannon Colleen Lynch, Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology, and Center for Conservation Biology;
Paul F. Rugman-Jones, Department of Entomology; and
Mathias Twizeyimana, and
Alex Gonzalez, Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology, University of California, Riverside, 92521; and
Tim Thibault, Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens, San Marino 91108
The polyphagous shot hole borer (PSHB) is an invasive ambrosia beetle that forms a symbiosis with a new, as-yet-undescribed Fusarium sp., together causing Fusarium dieback on avocado and other host plants in California and Israel. In California, PSHB was first reported on black locust in 2003 but there were no records of fungal damage until 2012, when a Fusarium sp. was recovered from the tissues of several backyard avocado trees infested with PSHB in Los Angeles County. The aim of this study was to determine the plant host range of the beetle–fungus complex in two heavily infested botanical gardens in Los Angeles County. Of the 335 tree species observed, 207 (62%), representing 58 plant families, showed signs and symptoms consistent with attack by PSHB. The Fusarium sp. was recovered from 54% of the plant species attacked by PSHB, indicated by the presence of the Fusarium sp. at least at the site of the entry hole. Trees attacked by PSHB included 11 species of California natives, 13 agriculturally important species, and many common street trees. Survey results also revealed 19 tree species that function as reproductive hosts for PSHB. Additionally, approximately a quarter of all tree individuals planted along the streets of southern California belong to a species classified as a reproductive host. These data suggest the beetle–disease complex potentially may establish in a variety of plant communities locally and worldwide.