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The spittlebug Philaenus spumarius feeds from mature xylem at the full hydraulic tension of the transpiration stream
journal contributionposted on 2023-06-07, 19:30 authored by M Malone, R Watson, J Pritchard
Feeding dynamics in the spittlebug Philaenus spumarius were analysed to determine the food source. Evidence from previous reports indicates that this species and similar insects feed from the xylem. However, it is not clear whether they extract sap from the main transpiration stream, or from some subsidiary compartment of xylem, such as immature or cavitated vessels. In feeding from such subsidiary compartments, the insects could avoid the large hydraulic tensions thought to prevail in xylem on the main transpiration stream. Philaenus, for example, is shown here to initiate feeding, and to feed rapidly, from plants in which the full xylem tension is estimated at -10 bar. From measurements of feeding rates and feeding patterns in stressed and unstressed plants, it is shown that Philaenus cannot feed from subsidiary xylem compartments. It is concluded that this insect feeds directly from the main transpiration stream, and at the full hydraulic tension which prevails there. The anatomy of the feeding pump in Philaenus appears consistent with this conclusion. Spittlebugs therefore offer an experimental tool for quasi- non-invasive sampling of the transpiration stream.
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- Biology and Environmental Science Publications
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