Ben Thornes

Effects of aphid infestation on Cd and Zn concentration in wheat

Wednesday 16th July 2014

Trace metal contamination of agricultural soils can occur from a number of sources, especially the use of agricultural materials such as fertilisers and sewage sludge. Contamination of soil may lead to the biomagnification of trace metals in arthropod food chains when the component species are physiologically inefficient at regulating their trace metal body burden. For example, it has been demonstrated that Cd (Cadmium) and Zn (Zinc) can be biomagnified in the wheat-aphid system. Concentrations of both metals in the grain aphid (Sitobion avenae F.) have been reported at levels over eight times higher than in the ears on which they were feeding. Aphid infestations may result in economic damage to cereal crops, but this can be reduced by biological control methods using the large number of arthropod species that prey on aphids. However, it has been suggested that some arthropods important in biological control may be endangered by the accumulation of trace metals in grain aphids.

Little is currently known about the factors influencing the transfer of trace metals between crop plants and cereal aphids. The effects of aphid infestation, by reducing the accumulation of trace metals in plant shoots, may be important in this respect and may restrict metal transfer to aphids and their predators. The aim of this study was to determine the effect of infestation by the aphid Metopolophium dirhodum on the concentration and mass partitioning of Cd and Zn in the roots, shoots and ears of wheat plants grown in uncontaminated soil.

Read the full article here.

Find out more about Dr Iain Green, here.

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