Trees in the genus Populus can provide substantial commercial and ecological benefits, including sustainable alternatives to traditional forestry, Realization of this potential requires intensive management, but damage by defoliating insects can severely limit productivity in such systems. Two approaches to limiting these losses include cultivation of poplar varieties with inherent resistance to pests and application of microbial pesticides. Little is known about the interaction between host resistance and the ability of poplars to support the efficacy of biocontrol agents. The research described here was conducted to survey the effect of hybrid poplar clones on gypsy moth, Lymantria dispar (L.) (Lepidoptera: Lymantriidae), a pest on these trees. We assessed the effect of various poplar clones on larval performance and susceptibility to Bacillus thuringiensis subsp, kurstaki. Larvae were reared from hatching on the foliage of 25 hybrid poplar clones and we monitored larval survival, development time, and weight at fourth instar. Eight of these clones showed high resistance against gypsy moth. The remaining clones showed high variation in their effect on larval performance. We evaluated the susceptibility of third-instar larvae to B. thuringiensis subsp, kurstaki when reared on the 17 remaining clones. There was a significant effect of poplar clone on time to death after ingestion of B. thuringiensis subsp. kurstaki. The susceptibility of gypsy moth larvae to B. thuringiensis on various clones was not correlated with the effects of these clones on larval performance in the absence of B. thuringiensis, suggesting this interaction is more complex than merely reflecting higher mortality to previously stressed larvae.
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Vol. 103 • No. 3