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Aphids at crossroads: when branch architecture alters aphid infestation patterns in the apple tree

Abstract : Plant architecture highly constrains pest infestation but is rarely considered in studies on plant–insect interactions. We analysed the relationships between apple tree architectural traits manipulated by tree training and within-branch development of Dysaphis plantaginea (rosy apple aphid, RAA),a major apple pest,during its multi- plication wingless phase in spring. We hypothesised that the degree of branching had an effect on RAA within-branch estation. In an experimental apple orchard, the infestation by aphid wingless forms was surveyed in two consecutive spring seasons within branches manipulated to design contrasted architectures differing in shoot numbers, shoot density and branching orders. Whatever the branch management system, aphid infestation was higher on long versus short, fruiting versus vegetative, and growing versus non-growing shoots. Either less infested shoots or less severe infestation were observed in the most branched system. A pattern of within-branch short-distance infestation was confirmed. Moreover, the number of branching points between two shoots exerted a high constraint on this infestation pattern. Beside possible trophic effects due to plant growth patterns already documented in the literature, a high degree of branching is likely to be a key-architectural trait to constrain within-branch aphid infestation. This opens new perspectives on the manipulation of branch architecture as a mean giving partial control of pests towards sustainable fruit production.
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Sylvaine Simon, Karine Morel, Emilie Durand, Géraldine Brevalle, Thierry Girard, et al.. Aphids at crossroads: when branch architecture alters aphid infestation patterns in the apple tree. Trees - Structure and Function, Springer Verlag, 2012, 26 (1), pp.273-282. ⟨10.1007/s00468-011-0629-8⟩. ⟨hal-01267760⟩

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