Manipulation of food resources by a gall-forming aphid: the physiology of sink-source interactions

Katherine C. Larson, Thomas G. Whitham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

228 Scopus citations


We examined the capacity of the galling aphid, Pemphigus betae, to manipulate the sink-source translocation patterns of its host, narrowleaf cottonwood (Populus angustifolia). A series of 14C-labeling experiments and a biomass allocation experiment showed that P. betae galls functioned as physiologic sinks, drawing in resources from surrounding plant sources. Early gall development was dependent on aphid sinks increasing allocation from storage reserves of the stem, and later development of the progeny within the gall was dependent on resources from the galled leaf blade and from neighboring leaves. Regardless of gall position within a leaf, aphids intercepted 14C exported from the galled leaf (a non-mobilized source). However, only aphid galls at the most basal site of the leaf were strong sinks for 14C fixed in neighboring leaves (a mobilized source). Drawing resources from neighboring leaves represents active herbivore manipulation of normal host transport patterns. Neighboring leaves supplied 29% of the 14C accumulating in aphids in basal galls, while only supplying 7% to aphids in distal galls. This additional resource available to aphids in basal galls can account for the 65% increase in progeny produced in basal galls compared to galls located more distally on the leaf and limited to the galled leaf as a food resource. Developing furits also act as skins and compete with aphid-induced sinks for food supply. Aphid success in producing galls was increased 31% when surrounding female catkins were removed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15-21
Number of pages7
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 1991


  • Galls
  • Herbivory
  • Phloem-parasites
  • Sink-source
  • Translocation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


Dive into the research topics of 'Manipulation of food resources by a gall-forming aphid: the physiology of sink-source interactions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this