Impact of chemical elicitor applications on greenhouse tomato plants and population growth of the green peach aphid, Myzus persicae

Anthony J. Boughton, Kelli Hoover, Gary W. Felton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

125 Scopus citations


Recent advances in the understanding of plant signaling pathways have opened the way for using elicitor-induced plant resistance as a tactic for protecting plants against arthropod pests. Four common elicitors of induced responses in tomato, Lycopersicon esculentum Mill. (Solanaceae), were evaluated with regard to phytotoxicity, induction of plant defensive proteins, and effects on population growth and fecundity of a common pest, the green peach aphid, Myzus persicae (Sulzer) (Homoptera: Aphididae). Ethephon and methyl jasmonate (MJ) treatments caused varying degrees of phytotoxicity. Ethephon caused pronounced changes in plant growth form and severe, dose-dependent negative impacts on plant growth and flowering. Effects with MJ were milder, but still caused temporary inhibition of development, leading to smaller plants and delayed flowering. The commercial elicitors benzothiadiazole (BTH) and harpin did not cause detectable phytotoxicity. The highest doses of ethephon and MJ significantly increased leaf peroxidase (POD) levels but only MJ treatments significantly increased polyphenol oxidase (PPO) levels. BTH and harpin had no detectable effects on POD and PPO. Populations of green peach aphids grew significantly more slowly on plants treated with BTH or MJ than on control plants or plants treated with harpin or ethephon. Slowed aphid population growth on BTH-treated plants was due to significant reductions in aphid fecundity, although this was independent of changes in time to onset of reproduction or time to death. Aphid fecundity was also reduced on MJ-treated plants relative to controls, but this difference was not statistically significant, suggesting that other mechanisms are involved in slowing aphid population growth on MJ-treated plants. Growth of aphid populations on plants treated with a MJ-BTH mixture was reduced almost as much as with treatments of MJ alone, suggesting that antagonism between JA-dependant and SA-dependent plant signaling pathways is only mild with regard to induced defenses against aphids.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)175-188
Number of pages14
JournalEntomologia Experimentalis et Applicata
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Insect Science


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