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Maternal reproductive decisions are independent of feeding in the black bean aphid, Aphis fabae

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Colin Tosh


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Aphids are phloem feeders and an important assumption has been that reproduction is initiated only after phloem ingestion. Here we investigate the plant tissue location of parturition cues in winged and wingless, summer virginoparae and autumn migrants (gynoparae) of the black bean aphid, Aphis fabae. These seasonal forms have different host preferences. Using electrical penetration graph (EPG: to observe activity of the mouthparts) and video-monitoring procedures we demonstrate that the time to first parturition after host–plant contact is significantly shorter than the time to first registered phloem contact in the summer winged form. In gynoparae, the time to first parturition does not significantly differ from time to first phloem contact but is shorter than time to first phloem ingestion. Times to first parturition, first registered phloem contact and first phloem ingestion do not differ significantly in the summer wingless form. Simultaneous EPG and video recording procedures show that a high proportion of individuals of all morphs (45–70%) initiate reproduction before sustained phloem activities (salivation/ingestion). The only behaviours that all individuals demonstrate before first parturition are ‘non-penetration’ (aphid on plant surface with mouthparts outside plant) and stylet ‘pathway activity’, including secretion of gelling saliva and penetration of the non-vascular (epidermis and mesophyll) cells. A short period of penetration of the peripheral plant tissues (five cell punctures per individual) by aphids tethered and monitored by EPG decreases the time to first parturition of the winged summer form when subsequently placed on a Parafilm sachet containing 15% sucrose solution. This treatment also significantly increases the incidence of reproduction and individual reproductive output of gynoparae over a 24-h period. No detectable effects of tissue penetration on subsequent reproductive output are observed in the wingless summer form. Additionally, EPGs reveal that a number of aphids of all morphs display xylem ingestion, which occurs predominantly before initiation of phloem feeding but is not necessary to initiate parturition. It is concluded that aphids are likely to detect parturition cues during stylet punctures of cells within peripheral tissue layers, before reaching the phloem vessels.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Tosh CR, Powell G, Hardie J

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Insect Physiology

Year: 2002

Volume: 48

Issue: 6

Pages: 619-629

ISSN (print): 0022-1910

ISSN (electronic): 1879-1611

Publisher: Pergamon


DOI: 10.1016/S0022-1910(02)00084-7


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