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Evolution of an Aphid-Parasitoid Interaction: Variation in Resistance to Parasitism among Aphid Populations Specialized on Different Plants

Ruth A. Hufbauer and Sara Via
Evolution
Vol. 53, No. 5 (Oct., 1999), pp. 1435-1445
DOI: 10.2307/2640890
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2640890
Page Count: 11
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Evolution of an Aphid-Parasitoid Interaction: Variation in Resistance to Parasitism among Aphid Populations Specialized on Different Plants
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Abstract

The evolution of associations between herbivorous insects and their parasitoids is likely to be influenced by the relationship between the herbivore and its host plants. If populations of specialized herbivorous insects are structured by their host plants such that populations on different hosts are genetically differentiated, then the traits affecting insect-parasitoid interactions may exhibit an associated structure. The pea aphid (Acyrthosiphon pisum) is a herbivorous insect species comprised of genetically distinct groups that are specialized on different host plants (Via 1991a, 1994). Here, we examine how the genetic differentiation of pea aphid populations on different host plants affects their interaction with a parasitoid wasp, Aphidius ervi. We performed four experiments. (1) By exposing pea aphids from both alfalfa and clover to parasitoids from both crops, we demonstrate that pea aphid populations that are specialized on alfalfa are successfully parasitized less often than are populations specialized on clover. This difference in parasitism rate does not depend upon whether the wasps were collected from alfalfa or clover fields. (2) When we controlled for potential differences in aphid and parasitoid behavior between the two host plants and ensured that aphids were attacked, we found that pea aphids from alfalfa were still parasitized less often than pea aphids from clover. Thus, the difference in parasitism rates is not due to behavior of either aphids or wasps, but appears to be a physiologically based difference in resistance to parasitism. (3) Replicates of pea aphid clones reared on their own host plant and on a common host plant, fava bean, exhibited the same pattern of resistance as above. Thus, there do not appear to be nutritional or secondary chemical effects on the level of physiological resistance in the aphids due to feeding on clover or alfalfa, and therefore the difference in resistance on the two crops appears to be genetically based. (4) We assayed for genetic variation in resistance among individual pea aphid clones collected from clover fields and found no detectable genetic variation for resistance to parasitism within two populations sampled from clover. This is in contrast to Henter and Via's (1995) report of abundant genetic variation in resistance to this parasitoid within a pea aphid population on alfalfa. Low levels of genetic variation may be one factor that constrains the evolution of resistance to parasitism in the populations of pea aphids from clover, leading them to remain more susceptible than populations of the same species from alfalfa.

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