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A phloem-sap feeder mixes phloem and xylem sap to regulate osmotic potential

Pompon, J., Quiring, D., Goyer, C., Giordanengo, P., Pelletier, Y. (2011). A phloem-sap feeder mixes phloem and xylem sap to regulate osmotic potential, 57(9), 1317-1322.


Phloem-sap feeders (Hemiptera) occasionally consume the dilute sap of xylem, a behaviour that has previously been associated with replenishing water balance following dehydration. However, a recent study reported that non-dehydrated aphids ingested xylem sap. Here, we tested the hypothesis that the consumption of xylem sap, which has a low osmolality, is a general response to osmotic stresses other than dehydration. Alate aphids were subjected to different treatments and subsequently transferred onto a plant, where electrical penetration graph (EPG) was used to estimate durations of passive phloem sap consumption and active sucking of xylem sap. The proportion of time aphids fed on xylem sap (i.e., time spent feeding on xylem sap/total time spent feeding on phloem plus xylem sap) was used as a proxy of the solute concentration of the uptake. The proportion of time alate aphids fed on xylem sap increased: (1) with the time spent imbibing an artificial diet containing a solution of sucrose, which is highly concentrated in phloem sap and is mainly responsible for the high osmotic potential of phloem sap; (2) with the osmotic potential of the artificial diet, when osmotic potential excess was not related to sucrose concentration; and (3) when aphids were deprived of primary symbionts, a condition previously shown to lead to a higher haemolymph osmotic potential. All our results converge to support the hypothesis that xylem sap consumption contributes to the regulation of the osmotic potential in phloem-sap feeders. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.

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