A highly infective plant-associated bacterium influences reproductive rates in pea aphids

Tory A. Hendry, Kelley J. Clark, David A. Baltrus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Pea aphids, Acyrthosiphon pisum, have the potential to increase reproduction as a defence against pathogens, though how frequently this occurs or how infection with live pathogens influences this response is not well understood. Here we determine the minimum infective dose of an environmentally common bacterium and possible aphid pathogen, Pseudomonas syringae, to determine the likelihood of pathogenic effects to pea aphids.Additionally,we used P. syringae infection to investigate how live pathogens may alter reproductive rates. We found that oral bacterial exposure decreased subsequent survival of aphids in a dose-dependent manner and we estimate that ingestion of less than 10 bacterial cells is sufficient to increase aphid mortality. Pathogen dose was positively related to aphid reproduction. Aphids exposed to low bacterial doses showed decreased, although statistically indistinguishable, fecundity compared to controls. Aphids exposed to high doses reproduced significantly more than low dose treatments and also more, but not significantly so, than controls. These results are consistent with previous studies suggesting that pea aphids may use fecundity compensation as a response to pathogens. Consequently, even low levels of exposure to a common plantassociated bacterium may therefore have significant effects on pea aphid survival and reproduction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number150478
JournalRoyal Society Open Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2016


  • Acyrthosiphon pisum
  • Fecundity compensation
  • Pseudomonas syringae

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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