NOx :: Aphids

Latin name: 

Aphis spp.

Impact Type: Direct exposure to pollutant

Key Concerns:

A number of sudies (Dohmen et al. 1984, Mansfield & Freer-Smith 1981) have shown that plants that had been fumigated with NO2 and SO2 were more prone to aphid attack, and that aphid productivity was higher as a result of changes in the amino acid composition of the plants. Some studies suggest that aphids grow faster under conditions of high NO2 and SO2 (Whittaker 1994, 2001). Other studies, where spruce trees were exposed to vehicle exhaust gases, have shown no effect on aphid performance (Viskari et al. 2000), and no significant effects on aphids were observed in a controlled fumigation of spruce and pine seedlings with NO2 (Holopainen et al.,1995).

Additional Comments:

Masters and McNeill (1996) suggest that it is difficult to predict how susceptible a particular variety of host plant will be to insect pests when stressed by pollution. They showed that plants that were normally resistant to aphid attack can become vulnerable when subjected to raised concentration of NO2. However, the reverse can also occur with normally highly susceptible plants becoming more resistant with raised levels of NO2. In healthy plant air pollutants are generally taken up diffusion through the stomata (Kersteins 1996), in addition to this the damage caused to the plant by insect feeding can itself significantly affect this uptake of pollutants (Whittaker 2001). 

Critical Load/level: 

Critical Load/ Level

No estimate available


Bell, J.N.B.; McNeill, S.; Houlden, G.; Brown, V.C.; Mansfield, P.J. 1993 Atmospheric Change - Effect on Plant Pests and Diseases Parasitology 106 S11-S24
Dohmen, G.P.; McNeill, S.; Bell, J.N.B. 1984 Air pollution increases Aphis fabae pest potential Nature 307 52-53
Holopainen, J.K.; Kainulainen, P.; Oksanen, J. 1995 Effects of gaseous air pollutants on aphid performance on Scots pine and Norway spruce seedlings. Water, Air and Soil Pollution 85 1431-1436
Mansfield, T.A.; Freer-Smith, P.H. 1981 Effects of urban air pollution on plant growth Riological Reviews 56 343-368
Viskari, E.L.; Surakka, J.; Pasanen, P.; Mirme, Am. ; Ruuskanen, J.; Holopainen, J.K. 2000 Responses of spruce seedlings (Picea abies) to exhaust gas under laboratory conditions - I - plant-insect interactions. Environmental Pollution 107 89-98
Whittaker, J.B. 2001 Insects and plants in a changing atmosphere Journal of Ecology 89 507-518

Species group: