Distinguishing defensive characteristics in the phloem of ash species resistant and susceptible to emerald ash borer

J Chem Ecol. 2011 May;37(5):450-9. doi: 10.1007/s10886-011-9954-z. Epub 2011 May 3.


We examined the extent to which three Fraxinus cultivars and a wild population that vary in their resistance to Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) could be differentiated on the basis of a suite of constitutive chemical defense traits in phloem extracts. The EAB-resistant Manchurian ash (F. mandshurica, cv. Mancana) was characterized by having a rapid rate of wound browning, a high soluble protein concentration, low trypsin inhibitor activities, and intermediate levels of peroxidase activity and total soluble phenolic concentration. The EAB-susceptible white ash (F. americana, cv. Autumn Purple) was characterized by a slow wound browning rate and low levels of peroxidase activity and total soluble phenolic concentrations. An EAB-susceptible green ash cultivar (F. pennsylvanica, cv. Patmore) and a wild accession were similar to each other on the basis of several chemical defense traits, and were characterized by high activities of peroxidase and trypsin inhibitor, a high total soluble phenolic concentration, and an intermediate rate of wound browning. Lignin concentration and polyphenol oxidase activities did not differentiate resistant and susceptible species. Of 33 phenolic compounds separated by HPLC and meeting a minimum criterion for analysis, nine were unique to Manchurian ash, five were shared among all species, and four were found in North American ashes and not in the Manchurian ash. Principal components analysis revealed clear separations between Manchurian, white, and green ashes on the basis of all phenolics, as well as clear separations on the basis of quantities of phenolics that all species shared. Variation in some of these constitutive chemical defense traits may contribute to variation in resistance to EAB in these species.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Catechol Oxidase / isolation & purification
  • Catechol Oxidase / metabolism
  • Coleoptera / physiology*
  • Fraxinus / metabolism*
  • Fraxinus / parasitology*
  • Host-Parasite Interactions*
  • Lignin / isolation & purification
  • Lignin / metabolism
  • Peroxidase / isolation & purification
  • Peroxidase / metabolism
  • Phenols / isolation & purification
  • Phenols / metabolism
  • Phloem / metabolism*
  • Plant Proteins / isolation & purification
  • Plant Proteins / metabolism*


  • Phenols
  • Plant Proteins
  • Lignin
  • Catechol Oxidase
  • Peroxidase