Body colour and genetic variation in winged morph production in the pea aphid

Wolfgang W. Weisser, Christian Braendle

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Aphids (Homoptera: Aphidoidea) produce a number of different phenotypes in their life-cycle, among which are winged (alate) and wingless (apterous) morphs. Lowe & Taylor (1964) and Sutherland (1969a, b) were the first to suggest that aphid clones differ in their propensity to produce the winged morph and that in the pea aphid (Acyrthosiphon pisum Harris), this propensity is linked to the colour of the phenotype. We tested for the occurrence of genetic variation in winged morph production by rearing individuals from red and green clones of pea aphid under wing-inducing (crowding) and control conditions, and scored the phenotypes of their offspring. Clones differed significantly in alate production and red clones produced on average a higher proportion of winged morphs than green clones. Importantly, however, there was considerable variation between clones of the same colour. Broad-sense heritabilities of winged morph production were 0.69 (crowding treatment) and 0.63 (control). Clones also differed in the number of offspring they produced. When exposed to the crowding stimulus, aphids deferred offspring production, resulting in a higher number of offspring produced in the crowding treatment than in the control.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-223
Number of pages7
JournalEntomologia Experimentalis et Applicata
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Acyrthosiphon pisum
  • Alates
  • Clone
  • Colour polymorphism
  • Crowding
  • Phenotypic plasticity
  • Polyphenism
  • Wing dimorphism


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