Antagonistic Effects of Soybean Viruses on Soybean Aphid Performance

  • Donaldson J
  • Gratton C
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Although there is long-standing recognition that pest complexes require different management approaches than individual pests, relatively little research has explored how pests interact. In particular, little is known of how herbivorous insects and plant pathogens interact when sharing the same host plant. The soybean aphid, Aphis glycines Mastumura, a recently introduced pest of soybean in the upper midwestern United States, and a complex of plant viruses vectored to soybean by insects have become a major concern for growers in the region. Given the abundance of soybean aphid and the increase in virus incidence in recent years, soybean aphids often use soybean infected by plant viral pathogens. We tested the hypothesis that soybean aphid performance is affected by virus infection of soybean plants. We conducted a series of field and laboratory experiments that examined how infection of soybeans with the common plant viruses, alfalfa mosaic, soybean mosaic, and bean pod mottle viruses, influenced soybean aphid performance. Soybean plants (in the field and laboratory) were hand inoculated with individual viruses, and aphids were allowed to colonize plants naturally in field experiments or added to the plants in clip-cages or within mesh bags in laboratory assays. In the field, aphid density on uninfected control soybean plants was nearly double that on infected plants. In laboratory assays, aphid population growth rates were on average 20% lower for aphids on virus infected compared with uninfected plants. Life table analyses showed that increased mortality on virus-infected plants likely explain differences in aphid population growth. Although there was some heterogeneity in the significance of treatment effects among different experiments, when independent experiments are taken together, there is on average an overall negative effect of these viruses on soybean aphids.

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  • Jack R. Donaldson

  • Claudio Gratton

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