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J Exp Biol. 2002 Oct;205(Pt 19):3009-18.

Amino acid composition and nutritional quality of potato leaf phloem sap for aphids.

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Department of Biology, University of York, Heslington, York, YO10 5YW, UK.


To define plant 'nutritional quality' for aphids, the causal basis of the variation in aphid performance between host plants of different developmental ages was explored using the aphids Myzus persicae and Macrosiphum euphorbiae on potato plants (Solanum tuberosum). Both aphid species performed better on developmentally young ('pre-tuber-filling') plants than on mature ('tuber-filling') plants. Aphid performance did not vary with leaf phloem sucrose:amino acid ratio but could be related to changes in the amino acid composition of the phloem, which included a developmental shift from high glutamine levels in pre-tuber-filling plants to low glutamine levels in tuber-filling plants. Aphid performance on chemically defined 'young' and 'old' diets, with amino acid composition corresponding to that of phloem amino acid composition in pre-tuber-filling and tuber-filling plants, respectively, confirmed that phloem amino acid composition contributed to low aphid performance on tuber-filling plants. The relatively poor performance on 'old' diets could be accounted for, at least in part, by depressed feeding rates. These data suggest that amino acid composition of the phloem is one factor shaping the nutritional quality of plants for aphids.

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