Herbivorous insects often move and distribute according to the quality of the plant they are on, and this behavior could influence interactions with plants bred for herbivore resistance. However, when an insect is normally considered sedentary, less is known about the potential importance of movement. We performed experiments to determine if a resistant soybean variety alters the movement and distribution, both within and between plants, of the soybean aphid Aphis glycines Matsumura. We did this by counting apterous aphids on leaves of resistant and susceptible soybean plants across several days. In individual plant tests aphid distribution was different between susceptible and resistant soybeans. Most notably aphids on resistant plants were quickly found off the original leaf on which they were placed and were ultimately distributed throughout the resistant soybean. Aphids on susceptible plants, however, tended to stay on their initial leaf of placement. Follow up experiments indicated this was primarily because of the movement of individuals and not differential demography on various plant parts. In experiments where aphids were able to walk to an adjacent plant there appeared to be a net movement of aphids off resistant plants and on to susceptible plants. Aphid populations on susceptible plants were higher when the plant was adjacent to a resistant plant than when adjacent to another susceptible plant. The effect of resistant plants on aphid movement and distribution could lead to unintended side-effects such as greater spread of plant viruses or altered effectiveness of biological control agents.
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Vol. 41 • No. 6