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Keywords:

  • Aphid;
  • Buchnera;
  • embryo;
  • nutrition;
  • symbiosis

Abstract The reproductive potential of aphids is well known and is the basis for their considerable economic importance. Reproductive output is ultimately fuelled by nutrients derived from the maternal haemolymph but mechanisms of embryo provisioning are poorly understood. Here, the morphological features of the reproductive system that have a critical role in nutrient transfer are reviewed, and the contribution of the symbiotic bacteria Buchnera to embryo nutrition is considered. In particular, the importance of the ovariole sheath as the selective barrier for nutrient exchange between the maternal haemolymph and the embryo tissue is highlighted, along with the division of the bacterial population into distinct embryo and maternal compartments. Three models are proposed to explain the relative contribution of the symbiotic compartments to embryo nutrition and the review concludes by highlighting experimental studies that have directly examined nutrient transfer from the maternal haemolymph to the developing embryos.