Fine structure of aphid stylet routes in plant tissues in correlation with EPG signals


Department of Entomology, Wagcningen Agricultural University, P.O. Box 8301, 6700 EH Wagcningen, The Netherlands.


Abstract. Plant penetration by Aphis fabae (Scopoli) was recorded by the electrical penetration graph (EPG) technique and followed by stylectomy during wave-forms that were suspected of indicating sieve element punctures. The severed stylets in the plant tissue were subsequently processed for transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and sectioned either transverse or longitudinal to the stylets. Two completely serially sectioned probes from the epidermis to the phloem were reconstructed.

In one probe the stylet pathway went to a sieve element and showed many empty branches of salivary sheath material. Breaks in cell walls filled with sheath material demonstrated that the majority of cells bordering the track had been punctured, which supports earlier evidence from EPGs. All types of cells showed punctures and the highest number was found inside the vascular bundle. Very few cells died, which would appear to be important for virus transmission, and in others cellular reactions remained limited to some callose formation. The route of the stylets was intercellular and passed through the secondary wall material. The role of pectinase in intercellular penetration, and previous evidence for intracellular tracks are discussed. Most sieve elements had been punctured but only one was eventually accepted. Thus, reaching a sieve element in a host plant does not automatically imply its acceptance though the reason remains unclear. Gelation of phloem proteins was shown in the stylet canal.

In a second probe, plant cytological and morphological correlations with the EPG were emphasized. Probes by other aphid-plant combinations showed great similarity.