Differences in constitutive and inducible defences in pine species determining susceptibility to pinewood nematode

C. S. Pimentel, E. V. Gonçalves, P. N. Firmino, T. Calvão, L. Fonseca, I. Abrantes, O. Correia, C. Máguas

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25 Citations (Scopus)


The pinewood nematode, Bursaphelenchus xylophilus, originating from North America (NA), is a major invasive pine pest in Eurasia. It was first detected in Portugal in 1999 associated with maritime pine, Pinus pinaster, and has been differently affecting the main local pine species, P. pinaster and P. pinea. Field studies and direct inoculation experiments in Pinus spp. seedlings, under controlled conditions, were performed to assess whether the differences in constitutive and inducible defences are determining the different susceptibility of pine host species to B. xylophilus. Host co-evolution with the pathogen was also assessed, including the NA P. radiata, widely used in forestry in the northeast of the Iberian peninsula. Pine mortality in the field was positively related with the abundance of B. xylophilus, and concentration of phenolics and condensed tannins in pines. In the greenhouse assay, seedling tissues were analysed for constitutive investment in defences, as well as the potential inducibility of those defences as driven by B. xylophilus inoculation. Slower growing P. pinea presented higher levels of constitutive defences than faster growing P. pinaster, with only P. pinaster being affected by B. xylophilus. Furthermore, co-evolution with the pathogen is important, with the fast-growing NA P. radiata presenting an inducible and effective response to B. xylophilus. Results point to the importance of integrating data on pine life history traits, including growth rate, and production of constitutive and inducible defences, into predictive models for this invasive forest pest.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-139
Number of pages9
JournalPlant Pathology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017


  • Bursaphelenchus xylophilus
  • condensed tannins
  • Pinus pinaster
  • Pinus pinea
  • Pinus radiata
  • total phenols


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