A galling aphid with extra life-cycle complexity: Population ecology and evolutionary considerations

David Wool, Moshe Burstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In most gall-forming aphids, only the fundatrix is able to induce a gall on the host plant. In Smynthurodes betae Westw. (and a few other species), F2 descendants emerge from the mother gall and induce their own, morphologically different galls. This constitutes an added complexity to the already very complex life cycle of gall-forming aphids. We investigated the ecology of S. betae on marked trees and shoots at four sites in Israel. Gall initiation, gall distribution and density, and temporal changes in clone size within the galls were investigated during two consecutive years. We discuss the possibility that the two-gall life cycle evolved from the typical one-gall system of most gall aphids, and the possible selective advantage of this added complexity in the life-history strategy of gall aphids. Although the total reproductive output of S. betae is not higher than in related species with a single gall per life cycle, there seems to be an advantage in the subdivision of each aphid clone into several galls, thus reducing the risk of the accidental extinction of the clone (genotype) by environmental factors, including parasites and predators.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)307-322
Number of pages16
JournalResearches on Population Ecology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 1991


  • ecology
  • evolution
  • gall aphids
  • life cycle
  • Smynthurodes betae Westw

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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