Carleton University J.D. Irving, Limited
Annual harvests of spruce and pine trees in eastern Canada are an important contributor to Canada’s economy. However, periodic epidemics of a damaging insect pest, the eastern spruce budworm, continually threaten the forestry and paper products industries. J. David Miller, a Professor at Carleton University has teamed up with J.D. Irving, Limited (JDI) to combat this problem in an environmentally sensitive way.
The NSERC-supported research led to the discovery of an insect toxic strain of endophytes – natural fungi that live in the leaves of many plants – in the needles of conifer seedlings in the Acadian forest. It turns out that conifer endophytes are transmitted to seedlings as they begin to grow on the forest floor surrounded by cast needles from mature trees.
Thanks to the partnership this natural process has since been successfully replicated in greenhouses. JDI now mass-produces endophytic fungi and have planted more than 100 million endophyte-enhanced seedlings. The resulting trees have been demonstrated to have increased tolerance to spruce budworm.