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Consistency of resistance to attack by the green spruce aphid (Elatobium abietinum Walker) in different ontogenetic stages of Sitka spruce

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1 The susceptibility of different genotypes of 29-year-old Sitka spruce to damage by the green spruce aphid, Elatobium abietinum, was investigated in a progeny trial where aphid damage on individual trees had previously been assessed twice in an earlier stage of ontogenetic development. The progeny trial comprised 14 open-pollinated families originating from a clonal seed orchard that had been established using mature spruce trees selected for aphid resistance.

2 Previous investigations had demonstrated that resistance was inherited by the offspring, and that differences in resistance between progenies of the individual orchard clones were highly significant.

3 Susceptibility to aphid attack was recorded as the percentage loss of previous year's needles. Differences in susceptibility recorded between the juvenile trees were found to persist after the trees had developed into the closed-canopy, sexually reproducing stage. Needle loss of the families was significantly less than that of the reference population of Sitka spruce.

4 Hybrids between Sitka spruce and white spruce were defoliated more heavily than pure Sitka spruce, and the difference increased with age.

5 Family heritability of resistance was estimated as 0.60 compared to 0.73 when the trees were assessed in the juvenile stage. The genetic correlation based on family means between damage in the juvenile and sexually reproducing stand was high (0.83), indicating a high consistency of resistance to the aphid over years and ontogenetic stages.

6 A skewed distribution of defoliation indicated that major genes are involved in the expression of resistance, and that the genetics behind resistance has a nonadditive component.

Keywords: Aphid/genotype interaction; Elatobium abietinum; Picea sitchensis; defoliation; heritability; ontogenetic stages; resistance

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1046/j.1461-9563.2003.00175.x

Affiliations: 1: Department of Ecology, Zoology Section, The Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University, Copenhagen, DK- 1871 Frederiksberg C. Denmark, 2: Department of Economics and Natural Resources, The Arboretum, The Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University, Copenhagen, DK-2970 Hørsholm, Denmark

Publication date: May 1, 2003

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