Purdue University Graduate School
Ethington.Dissertation.4.29.21.Final.edits.pdf (2.44 MB)

Role of Fungal and Host-Associated Volatiles in the Chemical Ecology of Scolytine Beetles Affecting Hardwood Trees

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posted on 2021-04-30, 20:51 authored by Matthew W EthingtonMatthew W Ethington
Native and invasive bark and ambrosia beetles threaten the health and productivity of natural and planted forests worldwide. Management of these pests relies on semiochemical-based tactics, but these are often ineffective at monitoring for incipient populations or decreasing pest populations. The role of fungal and non-host volatiles in colonization behavior remains unknown for many important bark and ambrosia beetle species, thereby hindering their control. In this dissertation, I tested the hypothesis that fungal and tree-associated volatiles influence the host colonization behavior of bark and ambrosia beetles that affect hardwood trees. This work describes the identification of novel fungal and host-associated semiochemicals that may aid in future management of these important pests.

In Chapter 1, I review the current literature describing the volatile chemical ecology of bark and ambrosia beetles that inhabit hardwood trees. A review of groups with numerous identified semiochemicals, as well as considerations for future research is included.

In Chapter 2, I test the hypothesis that host colonization by the peach bark beetle (Phloeotribus liminaris) is chemically mediated by compounds associated with infested hosts. I found that benzaldehyde mediates colonization by the peach bark beetle, and that that benzaldehyde lures are effective attractants in field-trapping studies.

In Chapter 3, I test the hypothesis that ambrosia beetle attraction to host stress compounds can be modified by symbiotic fungal volatiles. I found that for three species of invasive ambrosia beetles individual fungal volatiles act as repellents, with species-specific differences in response to different compounds.

In Chapter 4, I test the hypothesis that attraction of the walnut twig beetle (Pityophthorus juglandis) to its pheromone lure can be enhanced by symbiotic fungal volatiles. I found that symbiotic fungal volatiles consistently enhance attraction of the beetles to their fungus, while one symbiotic fungal volatile of ambrosia beetle species repelled the walnut twig beetle.

In Chapter 5, I summarize results from each of the chapters and discuss patterns observed in the response to fungal and host-associated volatiles among the focal bark and ambrosia beetle species. I also discuss future research needs and directions to continue development of the knowledge surrounding scolytine chemical ecology and management of these pest beetle species.


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Entomology

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Dr. Matthew Ginzel

Additional Committee Member 2

Dr. Ian Kaplan

Additional Committee Member 3

Dr. Clifford Sadof

Additional Committee Member 4

Dr. Richard Meilan