Pine pitch canker (PPC), caused by the pathogenic fungus Fusarium circinatum (Nirenberg and O' Donnell), is a serious threat to pine forests globally. The recent introduction of the pathogen to Southern Europe and its spread in Mediterranean region is alarming considering the immense ecological and economic importance of pines in the region. Pines in forests and nurseries can be infected, resulting in severe growth losses and mortality. The pathogen is known to spread in plants for planting and in seeds, and results from recent studies have indicated that F. circinatum may also spread through phoretic associations with certain insects. With this review, we aim to expand the current understanding of the risk of insect-mediated spread of PPC in different parts of Europe. Through the joint action of a multinational researcher team, we collate the existing information about the insect species spectrum in different biogeographic conditions and scrutinize the potential of these insects to transmit F. circinatum spores in forests and nurseries. We also discuss the impact of environmental factors and forest management in this context. We present evidence for the existence of a high diversity of insects with potential to weaken pines and disseminate PPC in Europe, including several common beetle species. In many parts of Europe, temperatures are projected to rise, which may promote the activity of several insect species, supporting multivoltinism and thus, further amplifying the risk of insect-mediated dissemination of PPC. Integrated pest management (IPM) solutions that comply with forest management practices need to be developed to reduce this risk. We recommend careful monitoring of insect populations as the basis for successful IPM. Improved understanding of environmental control of the interaction between insects, the pathogen, and host trees is needed in order to support development of bio-rational strategies to safeguard European pine trees and forests against F. circinatum in future.
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