Amino acid budgets in three aphid species using the same host plant


Jonas Sandström, Molecular Evolution, Department of Evolutionary Biology, University of Uppsala, Norbyv 18C, SE-752 36 Uppsala, Sweden. Fax: + 46 18 471 64 04; e-mail:


Abstract. Nutrient provisioning in aphids depends both on the composition of ingested phloem sap and on the biosynthetic capabilities of the aphid and its intracellular symbionts. Amino acid budgets for three aphid species, Rhopalosiphum padi (L.), Schizaphis graminum (Rondani) and Diuraphis noxia (Mordvilko), were compared on a single host plant species, wheat Triticum aestivum L. Ingestion of amino acids from phloem, elimination of amino acids in honeydew, and the content of amino acids in aphids tissue were measured. From these values, ingestion rates were estimated and compared to honeydew and to estimated composition of aphid proteins. Ingestion rate was lowest in D. noxia due to low growth rate and low honeydew production; intermediate in S. graminum due to higher growth rate and intermediate honeydew production; and highest in R. padi, which had the highest rates for both variables. Both D. noxia and S. graminum induced increases in the amino acid content of ingested phloem. These changes in phloem content, combined with differences in ingestion rates, resulted in large differences among aphids in estimated rates of ingestion of individual amino acids. In honeydew, most essential amino acids were found in low amounts compared with the amounts ingested, especially for methionine and lysine. A few amino acids (arginine, cystine, histidine and tryptophan) were more abundant in honeydew of some aphids, suggesting oversupply. Aphid species differed in the composition of free amino acids in tissue but showed very similar composition in protein, implying similar requirements among the aphids. In R. padi and D. noxia, most essential amino acids were ingested in amounts insufficient for growth, implying dependence on symbiont provisioning. In S. graminum, most amino acids were ingested in amounts apparently sufficient for growth.