Insect vectors of the pinewood nematode: a review of the biology and ecology of Monochamus species

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Pine wilt disease (PWD), caused by the pinewood nematode (PWN), Bursaphelenchus xylophilus (Steiner and Buhrer) Nickle 1970, is a serious threat to susceptible pine forests of the world. The PWN is primarily vectored by Monochamus species (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae). The first occurrence of PWD was reported from Japan in the early 1900s. Following this report, Japanese scientists documented the community of bark‐ and phloem‐inhabiting insects associated with the nematodes in dying trees to determine possible vectors of the nematode. Monochamus alternatus was reported to be the most effective vector in Japan. The primary vector in North America is Monochamus carolinensis, and in Europe, it is Monochamus galloprovincialis. Further studies have been expanded through the nematode‐invaded countries of Korea, Taiwan, China and Portugal. There is an interspecific association between the PWN and its insect vectors, and it is an obligatory component of the disease cycle. It is crucial to understand this relationship as well as the population ecology of the beetle to aid in monitoring and control of this worldwide threat to pine forests. Studies to date indicate a remarkable similarity among beetle species around the globe for a variety of life‐history traits, including lifespan, adult emergence numbers, flight capability, nematode transmission rates and attraction to pine volatiles. Wherever pines are found, there is a beetle species capable of transmitting the nematode. Although flight performance and range is generally poor for this group of beetle vectors, the cryptic nature of the species and the lack of interest in the beetles by countries in the absence of the nematode have led to the disease establishing a foothold in a variety of countries such as Portugal. In this paper, studies conducted in different countries on Monochamus vector species of the PWN are compared and discussed.

Document Type: Review Article


Affiliations: Division of Plant Sciences, University of Missouri-Columbia, MO, USA

Publication date: April 1, 2012

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