Changes in amino acids in Cucumis melo in relation to life-history traits and flight propensity of Bemisia tabaci

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Abstract

Phloem amino acids in Cucumis melo L. were measured to determine whether changes in nitrogen availability might affect life-history traits and flight activity of Bemisia tabaci Gennadius (Homoptera: Aleyrodidae). During plant development, nineteen of the twenty common amino acids, plus hydroxyproline, citrulline, ornithine and γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) were identified. For most essential amino acids, there were two peaks observed: an initial large peak associated with young plants, and a later small peak associated with senescing plants. For histidine, ornithine and citrulline, medium to large peaks in relative abundance were observed in mature plants. Arginine peaked during the first few weeks of development and was no longer detectable after wk 7. Serine and glutamine/glutamic acid were the only amino acids that peaked during plant senescence. Factor analysis was used to create a reduced number of orthogonal factors, which corresponded well with the trends that were observed for the various groups of amino acids. No single or combination of factors explained a significant amount of the variability in oviposition. For both males and females, factor 1 (predominantly essential amino acids) was the single most important predictor of adult weight. As the relative concentrations of essential amino acids decreased, whitefly weights decreased. Factors 1 and 3 (predominantly histidine and ornithine) were the most important predictors of developmental time. As these amino acids decreased in relative concentration, developmental time increased. Percent emergence was positively associated with factor 1 and negatively associated with factor 6 (predominantly aspartic acid). The distributions of flight duration for whiteflies emerging from young, mature and senescing melon plants were compared and they were always skewed towards short flights; however, the frequency of long-duration flights increased when melon plants began to senesce. Whiteflies from all plant-age categories were capable of flying for more than 2 h with fully developed eggs, but the presence of more than four mature eggs was associated with flights of reduced duration.

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