, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp 1–7 | Cite as

Aphids are unaffected by the elemental defence of the nickel hyperaccumulator Streptanthus polygaloides (Brassicaceae)

  • Robert S. Boyd
  • Scott N. Martens


Nickel hyperaccumulation, resulting in plant Ni contents of >1000 mg kg−1 dry mass, has been shown to defend plants against folivorous herbivores. We determined whether this elemental defence tactic protected hyperaccumulating plants from attack by a phloem-feeding herbivore. We used the pea aphid, Acyrthosiphon pisum, and the Ni-hyperaccumulating plant Streptanthus polygaloides. Aphids were allowed to colonize mixed arrays of S. polygaloides in which plants either were hyperaccumulating Ni, not hyperaccumulating Ni and treated with a systemic insecticide, or not hyperaccumulating Ni. Aphid numbers g−1 dry mass of plant biomass were lowest for the insecticide treatment, intermediate for low-Ni plants, and highest for plants hyperaccumulating Ni. Artificial liquid aphid diet, amended with varying levels of Ni, resulted in decreased aphid survival at 2500 mg kg−1 Ni dry mass (or 5.03 mM Ni). We concluded that Ni levels in the phloem of hyperaccumulating plants of S. polygaloides were < 5.03 mM and, as a result, were not effective in defending plants against aphid attack.

Key words. Aphid – elemental defences –Streptanthus polygaloides– nickel – heavy metals 


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Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag Basel, 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert S. Boyd
    • 1
  • Scott N. Martens
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Botany and Microbiology and Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station, Auburn University, Auburn, AL 36849-5407, USA, e-mail: rboyd@acesag.auburn.eduUS
  2. 2.Department of Land, Air, and Water Resources, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, USAUS

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