Susceptibility of Eucalyptus trees to defoliation by the Eucalyptus snout beetle, Gonipterus sp. n. 2, is enhanced by high foliar contents of 1,8‐cineole, oxalic acid and sucrose and low contents of palmitic and shikimic acidJohannes Joubert, Benice Sivparsad, Michelle Schröder, Ilaria Germishuizen, Jingyuan Chen, Brett Hurley, Jeremy D. Allison, Almuth Hammerbacher
- Plant Science
Gonipterus sp. n. 2 (Coleoptera, Curculionidae) is an invasive, commercially important weevil that causes large‐scale defoliation of Eucalyptus trees. The weevil specifically feeds on young leaves and new shoots, thus reducing tree growth. The weevil displays a very strong preference for certain Eucalyptus genotypes, however, this behaviour and the chemistry underlying it is poorly understood, thereby complicating the selection of resistant trees. To elucidate the feeding preference of Gonipterus sp. n. 2, we assessed the relative levels of susceptibility of 62 Eucalyptus genotypes from 23 species using a laboratory choice assay. This revealed large intraspecific variation in susceptibility to weevil feeding, which for certain species, exceeded the interspecific variation. A semiquantitative metabolite profile analysis on 13 genotypes revealed strong correlations of 10 metabolites to feeding damage. The behavioural effects of the identified compounds were assessed through an in vitro feeding preference assay using artificial diets as well as under field conditions. This revealed three phagostimulants (1,8‐cineole, oxalic acid and sucrose) and two feeding deterrent compounds (shikimic acid and palmitic acid) for Gonipterus sp. n. 2. These chemical markers can be applied to tree breeding programmes for the selection of resistant genotypes to reduce damage caused by Gonipterus weevils.