Sorghum cuticular waxes influence host plant selection by aphids

Juan Betancurt Cardona, Sajjan Grover, Lucas Busta, Scott E. Sattler, Joe Louis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Main conclusion: Quantification of cuticular waxes coupled with insect bioassays and feeding behavior analysis demonstrate that long-chain C32 fatty alcohol impacts host plant selection by aphids. Abstract: Cuticular waxes constitute the first point of contact between plants and their environment, and it also protect plants from external stresses. However, the role of waxes in Sorghum bicolor (sorghum) against sugarcane aphid (Melanaphis sacchari), a relatively new and devastating pest of sorghum in the U.S., is not fully understood. In this study, we monitored sugarcane aphid behavior on two genotypes of young sorghum plants with different wax chemistry: a wild-type plant (bloom) with lower C32 alcohol cuticular wax, and a mutant plant (bloomless) with 1.6 times the amount of wax compared to wild-type plants. No-choice aphid bioassays revealed that sugarcane aphid reproduction did not vary between wild-type and the bloomless plants. Electrical Penetration Graph (EPG) monitoring indicated that the sugarcane aphids spent comparable amount of time feeding from the sieve elements of the wild-type and bloomless plants. However, aphids spent more time feeding on the xylem sap of the bloomless plants compared to the wild-type plants. Furthermore, aphid choice assays revealed that the sugarcane aphids preferred to settle on bloomless compared to wild-type plants. Overall, our results suggest that cuticular waxes on young sorghum leaves play a critical role in influencing host plant selection by sugarcane aphids.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number22
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
L.B. acknowledges support in the form of a fellowship from the US National Science Foundation Plant Genome Research Program (NSF PRFB IOS-1812037) as well as support from the University of Minnesota Duluth in the form of startup funds. This work was partially supported by Nebraska Agricultural Experiment Station-USDA Hatch Multistate Research capacity funding program (NEB-28–125) and US National Science Foundation CAREER grant IOS-1845588 awarded to J.L.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature.


  • Cuticular wax
  • Electrical penetration graph (EPG)
  • Fatty alcohols
  • Juvenile leaf
  • Sorghum
  • Sugarcane aphid

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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