Aphid Clonal Resistance to a Parasitoid Fails Under Heat Stress

J Insect Physiol. 2006 Feb;52(2):146-57. doi: 10.1016/j.jinsphys.2005.09.011. Epub 2005 Nov 22.


Parasitoid virulence and host resistance are complex interactions depending on metabolic rate and cellular activity, which in aphids additionally implicate heritable secondary symbionts among the Enterobacteriaceae. As performance of the parasitoid, the aphid host and its symbionts may differentially respond to temperature, the success or failure of aphid parasitism is difficult to predict when temperature varies. We tested the hypothesis that resistance of the pea aphid Acyrthosiphon pisum to the parasitoid Aphidius ervi, which is linked to aphid secondary symbionts, may depend on temperature in several resistant and non-resistant aphid clonal lineages of different geographic origin and of known bacterial symbiosis, using experiments in controlled environments. Complete immunity to A. ervi at 20 degrees C in three different aphid clones whose symbiosis is characterized by the possession of Hamiltonella defensa reversed to high susceptibility at 25 degrees C and especially 30 degrees C, suggesting that the aphid's immune responses to the establishment and early development of the parasitoid is strongly reduced at moderately high temperatures. There was no evidence that a pea aphid control genotype that was susceptible to A. ervi at 20 degrees C could become more resistant as temperature increases, as has been suggested for insect fungal pathogens. By contrast, our results suggest that aphid clonal resistance to A. ervi and related parasitoids is characteristic of cool temperature conditions, similar to various other fitness attributes of aphids. Based on evidence that H. defensa symbionts characterized all three A. ervi resistant pea aphid clones studied, but was absent in control aphids that remained susceptible at all temperatures, we suggest that secondary symbiosis plays a key role in the heat sensitivity of aphid clonal resistance. Our study may also indicate that aphid natural control of variably susceptible host populations by aphid parasitoids is more likely at moderate to high temperatures.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Aphids / growth & development
  • Aphids / immunology
  • Aphids / parasitology*
  • Clone Cells / physiology
  • Female
  • Hymenoptera / growth & development*
  • Logistic Models
  • Pest Control, Biological / methods*
  • Temperature