Soybean aphid, Aphis glycines Matsumura (Hemiptera: Aphididae), invokes substantial chemical treatment and economic cost in North America. Resistant soybean genotypes hold promise as a low-impact control methodology, but soybean aphid “biotypes” capable of development on resistant soy cast doubt on the durability of soy resistance. We hypothesized that variation in soybean aphid ability to colonize resistant soy is partially attributable to a bacterial symbiont of soybean aphid, Arsenophonus. We used microinjection to manipulate Arsenophonus infection in both virulent and avirulent aphid biotypes, resulting in five pairs of infected versus uninfected isolines. These isolines were subjected to various population growth rate assays on resistant Rag versus susceptible soybean. We found that aphid virulence on Rag soybean was not dependent on Arsenophonus: virulent aphid biotypes performed well on Rag soybean, and avirulent aphid biotypes performed poorly on Rag soybean, regardless of whether Arsenophonus was present or not. However, we did find that Arsenophonus-infected clones on average performed significantly better than their paired uninfected isolines. This pattern was not consistently evident on every date for every clone, either in the population assays nor when we compared lifetime fecundity of individual aphids in a separate experiment. Nevertheless, this overall benefit for infected aphids may be sufficient to explain the high frequency of Arsenophonus infection in soybean aphids.
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Vol. 44 • No. 3