Eur. J. Entomol. 110 (4): 617-625, 2013 | DOI: 10.14411/eje.2013.084

Relation between plant water status and Macrosiphum euphorbiae (Hemiptera: Aphididae) population dynamics on three cultivars of tomato

Anna R. RIVELLI1, Vincenzo TROTTA2, Irene TOMA2, Paolo FANTI2, Donatella BATTAGLIA*,2
1 School of Agricultural, Forestry, Food and Environmental Sciences, and
2 Department of Sciences, University of Basilicata, Viale dell'Ateneo Lucano 10, 85100 Potenza, Italy; e-mails: annarita.rivelli@unibas.it; vincenzo.trotta@unibas.it; irene.toma@tiscali.it; paolo.fanti@unibas.it

Deficit irrigation scheduling is used to increase the efficiency with which water is used in many crops including tomato, however a water deficit is predicted to favour phloem feeding insects. We tested if and how different cultivars of tomato grown under water deficit conditions affect the population growth of the aphid Macrosiphum euphorbiae. Three tomato cultivars (Scintilla, Beefmaster and Rio Grande) were used in the experiments. The results for three watering regimes were compared with those of a control, which was well watered every three days: stressed plants received one third of the water supplied to the control over each three-day interval (experiment 1); stressed plants received a gradually decreasing amount of water (100% at the first watering and then 80%, 60%, 50%, 40% and 20%) every three days (experiment 2); stressed plants received the same amount of water as the control but at longer intervals, that is when evident signs of wilting appeared (experiment 3). The results showed that water stress either enhanced, had an adverse effect or had no effect on aphid population growth, depending on the cultivar and watering regime. No difference was recorded in the population dynamics of M. euphorbiae feeding on Beefmaster tomato plants subjected to different levels of water stress. In the case of the cultivar Scintilla, live aphids were less abundant on stressed plants than on well watered ones in experiment 1 and 3 but not in experiment 2. The highest variability in aphid population dynamics on the plants grown under the different water stress protocols was recorded on the cultivar Rio Grande. In experiment 1, the initial peak in aphid numbers was higher on the water stressed plants than on the control and then decreased to lower numbers than on the control. In experiment 2, there were no differences in the numbers of aphids infesting stressed and control plants. In experiment 3, there were fewer aphids on stressed than on control plants after six days, as in experiment 1, but there was no initial peak in aphid numbers.

Keywords: Hemiptera, Aphididae, Macrosiphum euphorbiae, aphid population dynamics, Lycopersicon esculentum, water stress, trophic interaction

Received: August 16, 2012; Accepted: May 23, 2013; Prepublished online: October 1, 2013; Published: December 1, 2013

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