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Nitrogen fertilization effects on Myzus persicae aphid dynamics on peach: Vegetative growth allocation or chemical defence?

Sauge M.H., Grechi I., Poëssel J.L.. 2010. Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata, 136 (2) : p. 123-133.

DOI: 10.1111/j.1570-7458.2010.01008.x

Plant nitrogen (N) fertilization is a common cropping practice that is expected to serve as a pest management tool. Its effects on the dynamics of the aphid Myzus persicae (Sulzer) (Hemiptera: Aphididae) were examined on young peach [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch (Rosaceae)] trees grown under five N treatments, ranging from N shortage to supra-optimal supply for growth. Aphid population increased over time at the three intermediate N levels. It remained stable at the lowest N level and decreased at the highest N level. Four weeks after the start of infestation, the number of aphids displayed a parabolic response to N level. The relationships between N status and parameters of plant vegetative growth (stem diameter) or biomass allocation (lateral-total leaf area and root-shoot ratio) were consistent with responses proposed by models of adaptive plasticity in resource allocation patterns. However, the variation in plant growth predicted aphid population dynamics only partially. Whereas aphid number was positively correlated with plant N status and vegetative growth up to the intermediate N level, it was negatively correlated with plant N status above this level, but not with vegetative growth. The concentrations of primary and secondary (plant defence-related) metabolites in the plant shoots weremodified by Ntreatments: amino acids (main nutritional resource of aphids) and prunasin increased, whereas chlorogenic acid decreased with increasing N availability. Constitutive changes in plant chemistry in response to N fertilization could not directly explain the reduced aphid performance for the highest N level. Nevertheless, the indirect effect of N on the induction of plant defence compounds by aphid feeding warrants further investigation. The study focuses on the feasibility of handling N fertilization to control M. persicae in orchards, but findingsmay also be relevant for our understanding of the physiological relationships between the host's nutritional status and the requirements of the insect.

Mots-clés : myzus persicae; prunus persica; france

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