Aphids are a group of approximately 4,400 species of phloem-feeding insects with mainly temperate distributions. Although best known as agricultural pests, they are also a valuable system for the study of their complex life cycles, host plant specializations, bacterial symbioses, and environmentally induced morphologies (polyphenisms). The pea aphid, Acyrthosiphon pisum, has recently emerged as the aphid of choice for the development of genomic resources. Here we introduce the pea aphid and discuss a number of biological questions for which the species is well suited for study. We then review previous mapping and quantitative trait loci studies, concluding with a discussion of the genomic tools that are currently available including the genome-sequencing project.
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