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      Leptographium wingfieldii introduced into North America and found associated with exotic Tomicus piniperda and native bark beetles.

      Mycological research
      Animals, Ascomycota, genetics, growth & development, ultrastructure, Base Sequence, Bayes Theorem, Beetles, microbiology, DNA, Fungal, chemistry, DNA, Ribosomal Spacer, Insect Vectors, Microscopy, Interference, Molecular Sequence Data, North America, epidemiology, Phylogeny, Pinus, Plant Diseases, Polymerase Chain Reaction, RNA, Ribosomal, 28S, Sequence Alignment

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          Abstract

          Leptographium wingfieldii is a well-known fungal associate of the pine shoot beetle, Tomicus piniperda, in Europe. This fungus is pathogenic to pines and is an important cause of blue-stain in the sapwood of infested trees. Tomicus piniperda was first found in a Christmas tree plantation in Ohio, USA, 1992, but isolation of the fungi associated with these intercepted insects was not attempted. Fungal strains resembling L. wingfieldii were recently isolated from pines attacked by T. piniperda, Dendroctonus valens and Ips pini in the northeastern United States. These strains were morphologically similar to the ex-type and other reference strains of L. wingfieldii. Strains were also compared based on sequences of the partial ITS ribosomal DNA operon, beta-tubulin and elongation factor 1-alpha (EF-1alpha) genes. Based on these DNA sequence comparisons, reference strains of European L. wingfieldii were conspecific with North American strains from pines attacked by T. piniperda, D. valens and I. pini. A single strain from Canada, collected in 1993 near the Ontario border with the USA, shortly after the discovery of T. piniperda in that area and tentatively identified as L. wingfieldii, was also included in this study. Its identification was confirmed, suggesting that L. wingfieldii has been present in this region and probably over the whole range of the insect's distribution for at least a decade. This represents the first record of L. wingfieldii associated with the introduced and damaging pine shoot beetle T. piniperda in North America. It shows that the fungus is well established and can become associated with other native bark beetles that attack stressed and/or dying trees. The occurrence and spread of this highly pathogenic fungus associated with North American bark beetles should be monitored.

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