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J Exp Biol. 1999 Oct;202 (Pt 19):2639-52.

Fate of dietary sucrose and neosynthesis of amino acids in the pea aphid, acyrthosiphon pisum, reared on different diets

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Laboratoire de Biologie appliquee, INSA-INRA UA 203, INSA Bat 406, F-69621 Villeurbanne Cedex, France.


The fate of sucrose, the major nutrient of an aphid's natural food, was explored by radiolabeling in the pea aphid Acyrthosiphon pisum. To investigate the influence of nitrogen quality of food on amino acid neosynthesis, pea aphids were reared on two artificial diets differing in their amino acid composition. The first (diet A) had an equilibrated amino acid balance, similar to that derived from analysis of aphid carcass, and the other (diet B) had an unbalanced amino acid composition similar to that of legume phloem sap. Aphids grown on either diet expired the same quantity of sucrose carbon as CO(2), amounting to 25-30 % of the ingested sucrose catabolized in oxidation pathways. On diet A, the aphids excreted through honeydew about twice as much sucrose carbon as on diet B (amounting to 12.6 % of the ingested sucrose for diet A and 8.4 % for diet B), while amounts of sucrose carbons incorporated into exuviae were almost identical (1.9 % of the ingested sucrose on diet A and 2.7 % on diet B). There was also no difference in the amounts of sucrose carbon incorporated into the aphid tissues, which represented close to 50 % of the ingested sucrose. Sucrose carbons in the aphid tissues were mainly incorporated into lipids and the quantities involved were the same in aphids reared on either diet. On diet B, we observed neosynthesis of all protein amino acids from sucrose carbons and, for the first time in an aphid, we directly demonstrated the synthesis of the essential amino acids leucine, valine and phenylalanine. Amino acid neosynthesis from sucrose was significantly higher on diet B (11.5 % of ingested sucrose carbons) than on diet A (5.4 %). On diet A, neosynthesis of most of the amino acids was significantly diminished, and synthesis of two of them (histidine and arginine) was completely suppressed. The origin of amino acids egested through honeydew was determined from the specific activity of the free amino acid pool in the aphid. Aphids are able to adjust to variation in dietary amino acids by independent egestion of each amino acid. While more than 80 % of excreted nitrogen was from food amino acids, different amino acids were excreted in honeydew of aphids reared on the two diets. The conversion yields of dietary sucrose into aphid amino acids determined in this study were combined with those obtained previously by studying the fate of amino acids in pea aphids reared on diet A. The origin of all the amino acid carbons in aphid tissues was thus computed, and the metabolic abilities of aphid are discussed from an adaptive point of view, with respect to their symbiotic status.

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