A manipulative field study was carried out to determine whether the foliar endophyte fungus, Phialocephala scopiformisDAOM229536, decreased the performance of eastern spruce budworm, Choristoneura fumiferana larvae developing on white spruce trees. Overwintered second-instar budworm larvae from a laboratory colony or from a wild population were placed on endophyte positive or negative trees one or two weeks before budburst. The presence of the endophyte in the needles reduced the survival of C. fumiferana from both a wild population and a laboratory colony. Survival for budworm juveniles up to pupation and to adult emergence was 13% and 17% lower, respectively, on endophyte positive trees. The endophyte did not influence the size or sex of survivors and budworm survival was not influenced by any two- or three-way interactions. Budworm survival was higher for wild than for laboratory-reared budworm and for budworm placed on trees a week before budburst. This may be the first field study to demonstrate the efficacy of an endophytic fungus against wild individuals of a major forest insect pest. The efficacy of the endophyte at low larval densities suggests that it could be a useful tactic to limit spruce budworm population growth in the context of an early intervention strategy.

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Department of Chemistry

Quiring, D. (Dan), Adams, G. (Greg), Flaherty, L. (Leah), McCartney, A. (Andrew), Miller, JD, & Edwards, S. (Sara). (2019). Influence of a foliar endophyte and budburst phenology on survival of wild and laboratory-reared eastern spruce budworm, Choristoneura fumiferana on white spruce (Picea glauca). Forests, 10(6). doi:10.3390/f10060503