Evidence of plastic probing behavior in a 'superclone' of the grain aphid Sitobion avenae.
Asexual reproduction is very common in invasive insect pest. In the recent years, increasing evidences have shown that some invasive asexual lineages display an outstanding capacity to predominate in space and persist on time (superclones). However, little is known about the host-use behavior of these superclones. The English grain aphid Sitobion avenae (Fabricius) (Hemiptera: Aphididae) is one of the major pests of cereals worldwide. Chilean populations of the grain aphid are characterized by a high degree of heterozygosity and low genotypic variability across regions and years, with only four predominant superclone genotypes representing nearly 90% of populations. In this study, (1) the reproductive performance and (2) the probing behavior followed a host shift of one superclone and one non-superclone of S. avenae, were compared. The host plant in the superclone did not affect the reproductive performance, while in the non-superclone was lower on highly defended wheat seedling. The experimental switching of the host plants from barley (without chemical defenses) to two wheat species with low and high levels of chemical defenses, revealed that superclone exhibited a flexible probing activities related to access of sieve elements, while the non-superclone exhibited rigid responses. These findings are consistent with the pattern of occurrence of these genotypes in the field on cereals with different plant defenses (e.g. benzoxazinoids). These responses are discussed on the view of developing new strategies for the management in invasive populations of aphid pest species.