The effect of applying starch onto Arabidopsis thaliana on the feeding behaviour of Myzus persicae

Ideas and Perspectives

  • Ishita Paliwal McMaster University
  • Caitlin Reintjes
  • Pamela Schimmer
  • Mary Anne Schoenhardt
  • Jasmine Yang
Keywords: Arabidopsis, Myzus, aphid, starch, feeding, herbivory


It is well known that plant-animal systems interact in many complex ways, and each organism must adapt and develop mechanisms to best survive in their given conditions. While much is understood about the plant Arabidopsis thaliana and the aphid Myzus persicae, additional research must be conducted to gain more knowledge about the interactions between the two species. As a defence mechanism, in response to aphid feeding, A. thaliana converts sucrose into starch. Due to a lack of sucrose, there is less feeding by M. persicae. However, it has not yet been shown if these aphids are able to detect an increase in starch and recognize this as a deterrent to feeding. To test this, varying concentrations of potato starch were applied mechanically to A. thaliana (n=36) and the effect on aphid population size and plant health was analyzed. The research team found that M. persicae do not detect higher starch levels on A. thaliana as an indicator that nutrient availability on the plant is limited. Instead, it was found that on all but one plant, high starch concentration was a factor in plant deterioration. Thus, the research team advises against using starch as an organic pesticide. The findings of this study are significant as they will contribute to a better understanding of the organisms that threaten plant health, which will prove to be useful in the maintenance of various food crops.

How to Cite
Paliwal, I., Reintjes, C., Schimmer, P., Schoenhardt, M. A., & Yang, J. (2018). The effect of applying starch onto Arabidopsis thaliana on the feeding behaviour of Myzus persicae. Sciential - McMaster Undergraduate Science Journal, 1(1), 9-15. Retrieved from
Original Research