Miscanthus is a perennial C4-grass that has received much interest as a potential biomass crop in Europe. However, little is known about the consequences of its introduction in terms of impact on the local agroecosytem. In this context, laboratory experiments were conducted to investigate the potential colonization of this new exotic plant species by three of the main aphid pest species of common crops in Picardie, northern France. In host preference experiments, the two polyphagous aphid species studied, Aphis fabae (Scop) and Myzus persicae (Sulzer), exhibited an exclusive preference for their host plant, whereas the cereal specialist Rhopalosiphum padi (L.) showed no preference between its host plant and miscanthus. When assessed by electrical penetration graph technique, plant tissue probing activity by all three species always was characterized by pathway phases including potential drops that are typically associated to the transmission of noncirculative viruses. Phloem ingestion was observed in 5% of the polyphagous aphid individuals tested and in 20% of the R. padi tested. Aphids kept in clip-cages on miscanthus had a low survival rate and were unable to reproduce. These results demonstrate that miscanthus is not a suitable host for these three main aphid pest species but could act as a potential host for some viruses transmitted in a noncirculative manner and also in a circulative nonpropagative manner. The use of miscanthus as a barrier crop to limit the flow of aphid vectors and their phytoviruses is discussed.
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Vol. 106 • No. 2