Int J Biol Sci 2012; 8(5):697-706. doi:10.7150/ijbs.4108 This issue

Research Paper

Difference in Feeding Behaviors of Two Invasive Whiteflies on Host Plants with Different Suitability: Implication for Competitive Displacement

Baiming Liu1,2, Fengming Yan3, Dong Chu4, Huipeng Pan1, Xiaoguo Jiao1, Wen Xie1, Qingjun Wu1, Shaoli Wang1, Baoyun Xu1, Xuguo Zhou5✉, Youjun Zhang1✉

1. Department of Plant Protection, Institute of Vegetables and Flowers, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Beijing 100081, China
2. Institute of Plant Protection, Tianjin Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Tianjin 300112, China
3. College of Plant Protection, Henan Agricultural University, Zhengzhou, Henan 450002, China
4. College of Agronomy and Plant Protection, Qingdao Agricultural University, Qingdao, 266109, China
5. Department of Entomology, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40546, USA

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Liu B, Yan F, Chu D, Pan H, Jiao X, Xie W, Wu Q, Wang S, Xu B, Zhou X, Zhang Y. Difference in Feeding Behaviors of Two Invasive Whiteflies on Host Plants with Different Suitability: Implication for Competitive Displacement. Int J Biol Sci 2012; 8(5):697-706. doi:10.7150/ijbs.4108. Available from

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In China, Bemisia tabaci Q (commonly known as biotype Q) has rapidly displaced B (commonly known as biotype B) in the past 6 years. The mechanisms underlying such phenomenon have been studied extensively in recent years; however, we have not come to a definitive conclusion yet. In the present study, the differences in host suitability between B and Q whitefly adults to five host plants (cabbage, cotton, cucumber, poinsettia, and tomato) were evaluated based on their respective feeding behaviors using a direct-current electrical penetration graph (DC-EPG) system. Pair-wise comparisons of B. tabaci B and Q feeding on each of the five host plants clearly indicate that Q feeds better than B on tomato, cotton and poinsettia, while B feeds better than Q on cabbage and cucumber. The EPG parameters related to both phloem and non-phloem phases confirm that cabbage and cucumber are best suited to B, while tomato, cotton, and poinsettia are best suited to Q. Our present results support the contention that host suitability and adult feeding behavior contribute to the competitive displacement of biotype B by biotype Q. The discrepancy between field (previous studies) and laboratory results (this study), however, suggests that 1) whitefly displacement is apparently contributed by multiple factors; and 2) factor(s) other than the host plant suitability may play a vital role in dictating the whitefly biotypes in the field.

Keywords: Bemisia tabaci, host suitability, feeding behavior, DC-EPG, competitive displacement