Phloem sap intricacy and interplay with aphid feeding

Sylvie Dinant, Jean-Louis Bonnemain, Christine Girousse, Julia Kehr
Comptes Rendus Biologies 2010, 333 (6-7): 504-15
Aphididae feed upon the plant sieve elements (SE), where they ingest sugars, nitrogen compounds and other nutrients. For ingestion, aphid stylets penetrate SE, and because of the high hydrostatic pressure in SE, phloem sap exudes out into the stylets. Severing stylets to sample phloem exudates (i.e. stylectomy) has been used extensively for the study of phloem contents. Alternative sampling techniques are spontaneous exudation upon wounding that only works in a few plant species, and the popular EDTA-facilitated exudation technique. These approaches have allowed fundamental advances on the understanding of phloem sap composition and sieve tube physiology, which are surveyed in this review. A more complete picture of metabolites, ions, proteins and RNAs present in phloem sap is now available, which has provided large evidence for the phloem role as a signalling network in addition to its primary role in partitioning of photo-assimilates. Thus, phloem sap sampling methods can have remarkable applications to analyse plant nutrition, physiology and defence responses. Since aphid behaviour is suspected to be affected by phloem sap quality, attempts to manipulate phloem sap content were recently undertaken based on deregulation in mutant plants of genes controlling amino acid or sugar content of phloem sap. This opens up new strategies to control aphid settlement on a plant host.

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