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Host plant pubescence: Effect on silverleaf whitefly, Bemisia argentifolii, fourth instar and pharate adult dimensions and ecdysteroid titer fluctuations

Author(s): Dale B. Gelman | Dan Gerling

Journal: Journal of Insect Science
ISSN 1536-2442

Volume: 3;
Start page: 25;
Date: 2003;
Original page

Keywords: Whitefly-plant interations | 20-hydroxyecdysone

The ability to generate physiologically synchronous groups of insects is vital to the performance of investigations designed to test insect responses to intrinsic and extrinsic stimuli. During a given instar, the silverleaf whitefly, Bemisia argentifolii, increase in depth but not in length or width. A staging system to identify physiologically synchronous 4th instar and pharate adult silverleaf whiteflies based on increasing body depth and the development of the adult eye has been described previously. This study determined the effect of host plant identity on ecdysteroid fluctuations during the 4th instar and pharate adult stages, and on the depth, length and width dimensions of 4th instar/pharate adult whiteflies. When grown on the pubescent-leafed green bean, tomato and poinsettia plants, these stages were significantly shorter and narrower, but attained greater depth than when grown on the glabrous-leafed cotton, collard and sweet potato plants. Thus, leaf pubescence is associated with reduced length and width dimensions, but increased depth dimensions in 4th instars and pharate adults. For all host plants, nymphal ecdysteroid titers peaked just prior to the initiation of adult development. However, when reared on pubescent-leafed plants, the initiation of adult development typically occurred in nymphs that had attained a depth of 0.2 to 0.25 mm (Stage 3 - 4). When reared on glabrous-leafed plants, the initiation of adult development typically occurred earlier, in nymphs that had attained a depth of only 0.15-0.18 mm (Stage 2 Old - early 3). Therefore, based on ecdysteroid concentration, it appears that Stage-2, -3 and -4/5 nymphs reared on pubescent-leafed plants are physiologically equivalent to Stage-1, -2 Young and -2 Old/3, respectively, nymphs reared on glabrous-leafed plants. The host plant affected the width but not the height of the nymphal-adult premolt ecdysteroid peak. However, leaf pubescence was not the determining factor. Thus, host plant identity affects physiological events as well as structural characteristics during whitefly nymphal and adult development.
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