Pest Resistance in Redbud

in HortScience
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  • 1 Depts. of Entomology and Plant Science, Univ. of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721.

Mexican redbud (Cercis canadensis var. mexicana) exhibits resistance to leaf cutter bees (Megachile spp., LCB). Resistant trees (CMG) have glossy leaves and sustain little LCB damage as compared to dull-leaf Mexican redbud (CMD) and the closely related eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis, CC). On average, LCB made 35 times as many cuts per week on CC as on CMG and CMD, even though there were half as many leaves available. Mexican redbud leaves are twice as thick as CC leaves, which may account for LCB preference for the latter. However, leaves from CMG and CMD are similar in leaf thickness, cuticle wax content, and resistance to penetration, yet LCB had an even stronger preference for the former. More than 83 times as many cuts per week were made on CMD over CMG, even though the number of leaves was comparable. CMG leaves have a thicker cuticle on the upper surface that lacks wax crystals present in the CMD and CC. The upper cuticle from CMG leaves also contains fewer lipids and an altered lipid composition (notably fewer long-chain alcohols) compared to CMD.