Endosymbionts Differentially Alter Exploratory Probing Behavior of a Nonpersistent Plant Virus Vector

G. Angelella, V. Nalam, P. Nachappa, J. White, I. Kaplan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Insect endosymbionts (hereafter, symbionts) can modify plant virus epidemiology by changing the physiology or behavior of vectors, but their role in nonpersistent virus pathosystems remains uninvestigated. Unlike propagative and circulative viruses, nonpersistent plant virus transmission occurs via transient contamination of mouthparts, making direct interaction between symbiont and virus unlikely. Nonpersistent virus transmission occurs during exploratory intracellular punctures with styletiform mouthparts when vectors assess potential host-plant quality prior to phloem feeding. Therefore, we used an electrical penetration graph (EPG) to evaluate plant probing of the cowpea aphid, Aphis craccivora Koch, an important vector of cucurbit viruses, in the presence and absence of two facultative, intracellular symbionts. We tested four isolines of A. craccivora: two isolines were from a clone from black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia L.), one infected with Arsenophonus sp. and one cured, and two derived from a clone from alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.), one infected with Hamiltonella defensa and one cured. We quantified exploratory intracellular punctures, indicated by a waveform potential drop recorded by the EPG, initiation speed and frequency within the initial 15 min on healthy and watermelon mosaic virus-infected pumpkins. Symbiont associations differentially modified exploratory intracellular puncture frequency by aphids, with H. defensa-infected aphids exhibiting depressed probing, and Arsenophonus-infected aphids an increased frequency of probing. Further, there was greater overall aphid probing on virus-infected plants, suggesting that viruses manipulate their vectors to enhance acquisition-transmission rates, independent of symbiont infection. These results suggest facultative symbionts differentially affect plant-host exploration behaviors and potentially nonpersistent virus transmission by vectors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)453-458
Number of pages6
JournalMicrobial Ecology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


  • Aphis craccivora
  • Arsenophonus
  • Endosymbionts
  • Hamiltonella defensa
  • Nonpersistent virus transmission
  • Watermelon mosaic virus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Soil Science


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