Journal of insect physiology

Juvenile hormone titres and winged offspring production do not correlate in the pea aphid, Acyrthosiphon pisum.

PMID 18634797


Pea aphids, Acyrthosiphon pisum, reproduce parthenogenetically and are wing-dimorphic such that offspring can develop into winged (alate) or unwinged (apterous) adults. Alate induction is maternal and offspring phenotype is entirely determined by changes in the physiology and environment of the mother. Juvenile hormones (JHs) have been implicated in playing a role in wing differentiation in aphids, however until recently, methods were not available to accurately quantify these insect hormones in small insects such as aphids. Using a novel LC-MS approach we were able to quantify JH III in pea aphids that were either producing a high proportion of winged morphs among their offspring or mainly unwinged offspring. We measured JH III titres by pooling the hemolymph of 12 or fewer individuals (1 microL hemolymph) treated identically. Levels of JH ranged from 30 to 163 pg/microL. While aphids in the two treatments strongly differed in the proportion of winged morphs among their offspring, their JH III titres did not differ significantly. There was also no correlation between JH III titre and the proportion of winged offspring in induced aphids. This supports earlier findings that wing dimorphism in aphids may be regulated by other physiological mechanisms.