Resistance of a local ecotype of Castanea sativa to Dryocosmus kuriphilus (Hymenoptera: Cynipidae) in southern Italy.
The cynipid Dryocosmus kuriphilus is the most impactful invasive pest of Castanea sativa copse woods and orchards currently reported from many European countries. A low impact solution for the containment of this pest could be the use of resistant trees. We examined the resistance of the red salernitan ecotype (RSE) of C. sativa to D. kuriphilus and carried out a morphological characterization of this ecotype's plants and fruits. From November 2015 to May 2017 we observed and recorded the percentage of infested buds, healthy leaves and shoots on about 50 chestnut trees, together with the number, size, and position of galls, and the number of eggs laid by the gall wasps into the buds and the number of larvae inside the galls. We showed a progressive mortality of cynipid larvae up to the starting point of galls development when almost total larval mortality was recorded. This suggests that RSE trees have a moderate resistance to D. kuriphilus; however, resistance acts at different levels, resulting in fewer eggs being deposited, a low number of larvae reaching the complete development, and a low number of galls on the branches. Moreover, the galls on resistant trees are smaller than the susceptible ones, so the larvae are more exposed to parasitization.