Our objective was to evaluate piperidine alkaloids as potential resistance factors in Sitka spruce, Picea sitchensis (Bong.) Carr, at risk to attack by white pine weevils, Pissodes strobi (Peck). We sampled 72 seedlings in each of two replicated field trials in the Oregon Coast Range. The seedlings were grown from open-pollinated seeds of putatively “resistant” or “susceptible” off-site parental sources. Alkaloid concentrations in bark and foliage were measured in previously unattacked trees at the time of weevil host selection. Leader mortality was evaluated in the fall to gauge actual resistance in the sample trees. Five families had ≤25% topkill and seven sustained >50% topkill. Alkaloid concentrations differed significantly among families, but the major alkaloids did not appear to be functionally linked with topkill or useful indicators of resistance. However, our study design did not address all potential resistance mechanisms. Therefore, before concluding that Sitka spruce alkaloids have no influence on white pine weevils, complementary laboratory and field experiments are needed.
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Vol. 95 • No. 3