Entomology, Department of


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Published in Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata 101 (2001), pp. 159–166. Copyright © 2001 Kluwer Academic Publishers. http://www.springerlink.com/content/102876/ Used by permission.


Chlorophyll degradation is a complex phenomenon that often accompanies insect feeding damage to plants. Loss of chlorophyll can be initiated by several reactions, including oxidative bleaching, chlorophyllase activity, and Mg-dechelatase activity. Extracts from the Russian wheat aphid [Diuraphis noxia (Mordvilko)], the bird cherry-oat aphid [Rhopalosiphum padi (L.)], and aphid-infested and uninfested wheat plants were assayed in vitro for activities involved in chlorophyll degradation. Although the initial infestation was the same (10 apterous adults) for both aphid species, D. noxia weight was significantly higher than R. padi after feeding for 12 days. Consequently, D. noxia feeding caused greater fresh leaf weight reduction than R. padi feeding. Chlorophyll degradation assays showed no activity from either D. noxia or R. padi extracts. Plant extract assays showed a significant difference in Mg-dechelatase activity, while no difference was detected in either the chlorophyllase or oxidative bleaching pathways among the aphid-infested or uninfested plant extracts. Diuraphis noxia-infested leaf extracts showed a greater increase of Mg-dechelatase activity than either R. padi-infested or the uninfested plants. The findings suggest that leaf chlorosis elicited by D. noxia feeding is different from the chlorophyll degradation that occurs in natural plant senescence. Aphid-elicited chlorosis might be the result of a Mg-dechelatase-driven catabolism of chlorophyll in challenged wheat seedlings, however, the factor(s) from D. noxia that elicited the increase of Mg-dechelatase activity still remain to be determined.

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