Honors College Thesis


Resource uptake and host tissue chemistry: Implications for competition and disease Public Deposited

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  • Maintenance of optimal nutrient supplies is fundamental to the functioning of vertebrate, invertebrate, bacterial and plant physiology. Organisms on this planet compete with each other primarily to fulfill nutritional needs in order to maximize their health, wellbeing, and reproductive success. Here we examine nutrient concentrations in several different grass species within the context of the causes and effects of infection by barley yellow dwarf viruses, a common and economically important pathogen of grasses worldwide. Here we examine whether there is evidence that nutrient concentration motivates the vector to seek and feed on particular grasses. We selected grass species for which we knew aphid fecundity from a previous experiment. We analyzed tissue from these plants to determine their carbon to nitrogen ratios. We found that perennial grasses contained more tissue carbon than annuals, regardless of fertilization, and fertilized annual grasses increased more in tissue nitrogen than did the perennial grass species. These results are concordant with previous findings: aphids preferred and produced more offspring on the lower carbon annual grasses, suggesting that aphid vector preference and performance may be controlled by nutrition.
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