Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) is a wood-boring insect native to China and Korea. It is an invasive forest pest that attacks nearly all broadleaf trees in North America, but shows a preference for native maples. Eggs are laid in hardwood trees and larvae tunnel through the living tissue interrupting water and nutrients transport leading to tree death. It can be easily transported in firewood, live trees or untreated lumber wood such as packing material used in shipping, making it extremely challenging to prevent incursions.
ALB was first introduced to North America in the 1990s and suspected to have been introduced in solid wood packaging materials, such as crates or pallets. In 2003, ALB was discovered for the first time in Canada in an industrial park in the Toronto area. An intensive eradication program was initiated to remove host trees within a quarantine zone around the infestation to prevent further spread. ALB was not detected in Ontario from 2007 to 2012; however in 2013, another ALB infestation was detected in Toronto. Eradication and detection efforts were initiated for a second time as a result of the find. A five-year monitoring survey is currently ongoing to determine success of eradication efforts.
Identifying the source of new introductions of ALB will enhance pathway analysis and lead to improvements in the regulatory and import control systems. By generating genomic profiles of new finds and comparing them with previous outbreak samples and global profiles, we will be able to assess mitigation success. We will generate a global ALB collection by sampling from native (see figure) and invasive ranges (North America and Europe).
To understand ALB’s success in spreading and overwintering, we will study candidate genes that are associated with cold tolerance of ALB. The approach is to induce diapause and cold tolerance in lab-reared ALB from different populations (native and introduced) to discover genes associated with diapause regulation and cryoprotectant synthesis. Work will be conducted at the Natural Resources Canada Insect Production and Quarantine Laboratory (IPQL) – the only Canadian facility certified to house ALB colonies. In addition, we will study the metabolic changes associated with diapause and compare these responses among populations.