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Environ Entomol. 2013 Oct;42(5):973-9. doi: 10.1603/EN12342. Epub 2013 Sep 16.

Chlorophyll content and chlorophyll fluorescence in tomato leaves infested with an invasive mealybug, Phenacoccus solenopsis (Hemiptera: Pseudococcidae).

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Flower Research and Development Centre, Zhejiang Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Hangzhou 311202, P. R. China.


Herbivore injury has indirect effects on the growth and performance of host plants through photosynthetic suppression. It causes uncertain reduction in photosynthesis, which likely depends on the degree of infestation. Rapid light curves provide detailed information on the saturation characteristics of electron transport as well as the overall photosynthetic performance of a plant. We examined the effects of different intensities of infestation of the invasive mealybug, Phenacoccus solenopsis Tinsley (Hemiptera: Pseudococcidae), on the relative chlorophyll content and rapid light curves of tomato Solanum lycopersicum L. leaves using a chlorophyll meter and chlorophyll fluorescence measurement system, respectively, under greenhouse conditions. After 38 d of P. solenopsis feeding, relative chlorophyll content of tomato plants with initial high of P. solenopsis was reduced by 57.3%. Light utilization efficiency (α) for the initial high-density treatment was reduced by 42.4%. However, no significant difference between initial low-density treatment and uninfested control was found. The values of the maximum electron transport rate and minimum saturating irradiance for initial high-density treatment were reduced by 82.0 and 69.7%, respectively, whereas the corresponding values for low-density treatment were reduced by 55.9 and 58.1%, respectively. These data indicated that changes were induced by P. solenopsis feeding in the relative chlorophyll content and chlorophyll fluorescence of infested tomato plants. The results indicating that low initial infestation by P. solenopsis caused no change in relative leaf chlorophyll content or light utilization efficiency could have been because the plants rapidly adapted to P. solenopsis feeding or because of compensatory photosynthesis.

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