Nutritional enhancement of host plants by aphids - a comparison of three aphid species on grasses

J Sandström, A Telang, N A. Moran
Journal of Insect Physiology 2000, 46 (1): 33-40
Three aphid species were compared with respect to ability of enhancing the nutritional quality of their host plants. Rhopalosiphum padi, which does not induce macroscopic changes in its host plants, was compared with Schizaphis graminum and Diuraphis noxia, both of which induce distinctive types of chlorotic lesions. Phloem sap samples were collected from severed stylets of feeding aphids and from exudates of cut leaves of plants uninfested or infested with each aphid species. Samples were analyzed for concentrations of individual amino acids.Compared to R. padi, S. graminum ingested phloem sap with a two-fold higher concentration of amino acids and a much higher proportion of essential amino acids. Similar differences between these two aphid species were observed on both wheat and barley. For each aphid species, the absolute concentrations of amino acids and the relative proportions of essential amino acids were similar between the two host plants. Effects of D. noxia were similar to those of S. graminum, though less dramatic. Exudates from leaves infested with each aphid species showed relative concentrations of individual amino acids that were similar to those in the corresponding stylet exudates. Based on comparison of stylet exudates and cut leaf exudates from infested and uninfested plants, R. padi seems to have little effect on amino acid composition of phloem. Changes in the phloem induced by both S. graminum and D. noxia appear to be systemic, affecting at least the whole leaf they are feeding on. The changes observed for D. noxia and for S. graminum are likely to be nutritionally advantageous for the aphids and are expected to affect the aphids' dependence on nutritional supplementation by intracellular symbionts (Buchnera).

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