• Air pollution;
  • global change;
  • insects;
  • aphid performance;
  • food quality


Numerous reports indicate that pollution stress caused by sulphur dioxide (SO2), oxies of nitrogen or fluorides promote aphid growth on herbaceous and woody plants. At SO2 exposures, the response curve of aphids is bell-shaped having the peak at 100 ppb. This curvilinear response is related to physiological stress responses of host plants exposed to pollutants. On the other hand, observations of aphid performance on ozone-exposed (O3) or elevated carbon dioxide-exposed (CO2) plants have given very variable results. Depending on the duration and concentration of O3 or elevated CO2 exposure or the age of the exposed plants, aphid growth on the same plants either decreased or increased in comparison to growth on control plants grown in filtered air. The results of these studies suggest that there is no general air pollution-induced plant stress that triggers aphid outbreaks on plants. Plants grown in elevated CO2 usually have higher C/N ratios than plants grown in current ambient CO2 atmosphere. A reduced proportion of nitrogen in the plant foliage decreases growth of chewing herbivorous insects, but the few studies of elevated CO2 effects on sucking insects such as aphids have not yielded similar consistent effects. The present paper reviews recent studies of elevated CO2 effects on aphids and discusses the effects of combined elevated O3 and CO2 exposures on aphid performance on woody plants using pine and birch aphids as examples.