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Effects of Elevated CO2 on Aphids Feeding on Bell Pepper Plants

Paper Reviewed
Dader, B., Fereres, A., Moreno, A. and Trebicki, P. 2016. Elevated CO2 impacts bell pepper growth with consequences to Myzus persicae life history, feeding behavior and virus transmission ability. Scientific Reports 6: 10.1038/srep19120.

In an intriguing experiment, Dader et al. (2016) studied the life history and feeding behavior of Myzus persicae (better known as green peach aphids) that they introduced into growth chambers containing bell pepper plants (Capsicum annum L., cv California Wonder) which they had grown in air of either 400 or 650 ppm CO2, and where the mature plants in the CO2-enriched chambers "were taller and had higher biomass."

At that point in time, as they continue, "aphid ability to transmit Cucumber mosaic virus was studied by exposing source and receptor plants to ambient (427 ppm) or elevated (612 ppm) CO2 before or after virus inoculation." And what did this experiment reveal about the impacts of the aphids on the plants growing in the CO2-enriched chambers?

First of all, the four researchers report that compared to the plants that were grown in ambient-CO2 air, the CO2-enriched plants "were taller and had higher biomass." As for the aphids, they indicate that "their pre-reproductive period was 11% longer and fecundity decreased by 37%." And in regard to virus transmission, they report that "a two-fold decrease in transmission was observed when receptor plants were exposed to elevated CO2 before aphid inoculation when compared to ambient CO2."

In light of these several findings, it is evident that the ongoing rise in the air's CO2 concentration bodes well for bell pepper plants in two major ways: first, it enhances both their growth rate and ultimate size at the same time that it decreases the dispersion of the vegetation-destroying aphids that are often found among them.

Posted 20 May 2016