A couple of years ago
Janice Cooke and her team were able to use genomics to prove that mountain pine beetles had developed an appetite for Jack pines. The beetles had previously preferred to dine out on the lodgepole pine but with the jump to a new species, the mountain pine beetle has a dinner buffet that goes clear across Canada's forests from the west to the east.
Janice and her TRIA team
started out with funding from Genome Alberta and the Government of Alberta, and now has new funding from NSERC to expand the work, and study the complete ecology of the epidemic. They have been able to look at the how the beetle introduces a blue stain fungus into the tree and force it into defence mode. And they have also found why - the subsequent reaction of the tree is a source of nutrition for the beetle. As you'll hear in this podcast
from freelance broadcaster Don Hill, that is a very poor and destructive way for beetles to treat Canada's pine trees.