Eur. J. Entomol. 96 (2): 135-141, 1999

Host-plant mediated influences on population development of Sitobion avenae (Sternorrhyncha: Aphididae)


We investigated the effects of genetic differences and host plant density on population development of the rose-grain aphid Sitobion avenae (F.) (Sternorrhyncha: Aphididae) in winter wheat stands. Aphid numbers on ears were recorded on 11 cultivars (6 years) and on plots where crop density was varied by thinning (12 years). Crop density significantly affected whole plant, tiller and ear mass, number of tillers, and leaf area and chlorophyll content. The duration and rate of aphid population growth, and the maximum numbers of aphids were ascertained by weekly counts. Maximum abundances increased with the length of time available for the growth of aphid populations while the rate of population growth was less important. Variation of maximum numbers of S. avenae on different cultivars was not significant, probably due to the small variation in the period available for the development of aphid populations. By contrast, there was a significant Variation of aphid performance associated with host plant density. Aphid populations on solitary plants persisted longer and became more abundant than in dense stands. The prolonged survival of aphid populations was probably caused by an extended period of tillering and lower average age of tillers of solitary plants. There was large annual variation in aphid abundance. It is likely that modifications of host plant development caused by differences in winter weather may contribute to this variation.

Keywords: Aphididae, Sitobion avenae, host-plant effect, cereals, winter wheat, cultivar, development, abundance, population

Accepted: February 19, 1999; Published: June 30, 1999

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