Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Jumping – ship – can have its costs: implications of predation and host plant species for the maintenance of pea aphid (Acyrthosiphon pisum Harris) colour polymorphism

  • Adalbert Balog (a1) (a2)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 22 April 2013

The interplay between the host plant of an insect herbivore and an insect predator (here two-spot ladybird beetles; Adalia bipunctata (L).; Coleoptera: Coccinellidae), feeding upon such a herbivore was examined in the laboratory as factors possibly determining the differential abundance and success of green and red host races of pea aphid, Acyrthosiphon pisum Harris. The experiment comprised three treatments: two host plants (bean and clover), two treatment levels (control and predation) and three colour morph levels (green alone, red alone and green and red in mixture). Green morphs had higher fitness on the general host plant, bean Vicia faba, than on the derived host, clover (Trifolium pratense), in the absence of predation. Although green morph fitness was reduced by predation when infesting bean together with reds, there was no observable net fitness loss due to predation on clover in mixed colonies with red morphs. Red morphs exhibited fitness loss alone on both bean and clover, while clover plants seemingly prevented fitness loss in the presence of predation when red morphs were mixed with green ones. According to this scenario, when colour morphs existed as a mixed colony, the net fitness of either pea aphid morph was not influenced by predation on clover. Predators had significant effects only on red morphs on broad bean either when alone or were mixed together with green morphs. Thus, only red morphs experienced the benefits of switching from the general to the derived host red clover in the presence of predation. For green morphs, there was no apparent cost of switching host plants when they faced predation. Hence, the co-existence of green-red colour polymorphism of pea aphids on single host plants appears to be maintained by the morph gaining fitness on the derived host due to a host plant– and predation–reduction effect. These findings have important implications for understanding the ecology and evolution of host switching by different colour-plant host adapted races of pea aphids.

Corresponding author
*Author for correspondence Phone: 0040740562240 Fax: 0040265206211 E-mail:
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

H. Agawa & M. Kawata (1995) The effect of colour polymorphism on mortality in the aphid Macrosiphoniella yomogicola. Ecological Research 10, 301306.

K.M. Aquilino , B.J. Cardinale & A.R. Ives (2005) Reciprocal effects of host plant and natural enemy diversity on herbivore suppression: an empirical study of a model tritrophic system. Oikos 108, 275282.

C. Braendle & W.W. Weisser (2001) Variation in escape behaviour of red and green clones of the pea aphid. Journal of Insect Behaviour 14, 497509.

M.C. Caillaud & J.E. Losey (2010) Genetics of colour polymorphism in the pea aphid, Acyrthosiphon pisum. Journal of Insect Science 10, 95. available online:

A.F.G. Dixon (1998) Aphid Ecology. London, Chapman & Hall, 300 pp.

C.M. Caillaud & S. Via (2000) Specialized feeding behavior influences both ecological specialization and assortative mating in sympatric host races of pea aphids. American Naturalist 156, 606621.

A.F.G. Dixon & B.K. Agarwala (1999) Ladybird induced life history changes in aphids. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series B Biology 266, 15491553.

J. Ferrari , C.B. Muller , A.R. Kraaijeveld & H.C.J. Godfray (2001) Clonal variation and covariation in aphid resistance to parasitoids and a pathogen. Evolution 55, 18051814.

J.Ferrari , H.C.J.Godfray , A.S.Faulconbridge , K.Prior & S.Via (2006) Population differentiation and genetic variation in host choice among pea aphids from eight host plant genera. Evolution 60, 15741584.

A.Frantz , M.Plantegenest , L.Mieuzet & J.C.Simon (2006) Ecological specialization correlates with genotypic differentiation in sympatric host-populations of the pea aphid. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 19, 392401.

A.Frantz , V.Calcano , L.Mieuzet , M.Plantegenest , L.Mieuzet & J.C.Simon (2009) Complex trait differentiation between host-populations of the pea aphid Acyrthosiphon pisum (Harris): implications for the evolution of ecological specialisation. Biological Journal of Linnaean Society 97, 718727.

C.M.Knott (1990) A key for stages of development of the faba bean (Vicia faba). Annals of Applied Biology 116, 391404.

J.E.Losey , A.R.Ives , J.Harmon , F.Ballentyne & C.Brown (1997) A polymorphism maintained by opposite patterns of parasitism and predation. Nature 388, 269272.

E. Nelson (2007) Predator avoidance behavior in the pea aphid: costs, frequency, and population consequences. Oecologia 151, 2232.

E. Nelson & J. Rosenheim (2006) Encounters between aphids and their predators: the relative frequencies of disturbance and consumption. Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata 118, 211219.

J. Peccoud , A. Ollivier , M. Plantegenest & J.C. Simon (2009 a) A continuum of genetic divergence from sympatric host races to species in the pea aphid complex. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the United States of America 106, 74957500.

J. Peccoud , J.C. Simon , H.J. McLaughlin & N.A. Moran (2009 b) Post-pleistocene radiation of the pea aphid complex revealed by rapidly evolving endosymbionts. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the United States of America 106, 1631516320.

J.C. Simon , S. Carre , M. Boutin , N. Prunier-Leterme , B. Sabater-Muñoz , A. Latorre & R. Bournoville (2003) Host-based divergence in populations of the pea aphid: insights from nuclear markers and the prevalence of facultative symbionts. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series B Biology 270, 17031712.

W.E.Snyder & A.R.Ives (2003) Interactions between specialist and generalist natural enemies: parasitoids, predators, and pea aphid biocontrol. Ecology 84, 91107.

G.A.Sword , A.Joern , L.B.Senior (2005) Host plant-associated genetic differentiation in the snakeweed grasshopper, Hesperotettix viridis (Orthoptera: Acrididae). Molecular Ecology 14, 21972205.

F.J.van Veen , R.J.Morris & H.C.J.Godfray (2006) Apparent competition, quantitative food webs, and the structure of phytophagus insects communities. Annual Review of Entomology 51, 187208.

S.Via (1991) The genetic structure of host plant adaptation in a spatial patchwork: demographic variability among reciprocally transplanted pea aphid clones. Evolution 45, 827852.

S.Via (1999) Reproductive isolation between sympatric races of pea aphids. I. Gene flow restriction and habitat choice. Evolution 53, 14461457.

S.Via (2001) Sympatric speciation in animals: the ugly duckling grows up. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 16, 381390.

S.A. Via , C. Bouck & S. Skillman (2000) Reproductive isolation between divergent races of pea aphids on two hosts. II. Selection against migrants and hybrids in the parental environments. Evolution 54, 16261637.

W.W. Weisser & C. Braendle (2001) Body colour and genetic variation in winged morph production in the pea aphid. Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata 99, 217223.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Bulletin of Entomological Research
  • ISSN: 0007-4853
  • EISSN: 1475-2670
  • URL: /core/journals/bulletin-of-entomological-research
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *