Document Type


Date of Original Version



Biological Sciences


Eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) is in rapid decline because of infestation by the invasive hemlock woolly adelgid (Adelges tsugae; 'HWA') and, to a lesser extent, the invasive elongate hemlock scale (Fiorinia externa; 'EHS'). For many conifers, induced oleoresin-based defenses play a central role in their response to herbivorous insects; however, it is unknown whether eastern hemlock mobilizes these inducible defenses. We conducted a study to determine if feeding by HWA or EHS induced changes in the volatile resin compounds of eastern hemlock. Young trees were experimentally infested for 3 years with HWA, EHS, or neither insect. Twig and needle resin volatiles were identified and quantified by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. We observed a suite of changes in eastern hemlock's volatile profile markedly different from the largely terpenoid-based defense response of similar conifers. Overall, both insects produced a similar effect: most twig volatiles decreased slightly, while most needle volatiles increased slightly. Only HWA feeding led to elevated levels of methyl salicylate, a signal for systemic acquired resistance in many plants, and benzyl alcohol, a strong antimicrobial and aphid deterrent. Green leaf volatiles, often induced in wounded plants, were increased by both insects, but more strongly by EHS. The array of phytochemical changes we observed may reflect manipulation of the tree's biochemistry by HWA, or simply the absence of functional defenses against piercing-sucking insects due to the lack of evolutionary contact with these species. Our findings verify that HWA and EHS both induce changes in eastern hemlock's resin chemistry, and represent the first important step toward understanding the effects of inducible chemical defenses on hemlock susceptibility to these exotic pests.