Evolutionary Ecology

, Volume 33, Issue 5, pp 651–669 | Cite as

Host plant effects on the outcomes of defensive symbioses in the pea aphid complex

  • Corentin Sochard
  • Mélanie Leclair
  • Jean-Christophe Simon
  • Yannick OutremanEmail author
Original Paper


There is increasing evidence that microbial symbionts play pivotal roles in protecting their hosts. Most studies on defensive symbioses have analyzed interaction effects of host-symbiont genotypes on fitness value of defense but very few have considered how local environment could influence symbiont-mediated phenotypes. Our study assessed the effects of environmental variation on the intensity and cost of protection against adverse organisms in lineages of the pea aphid, Acyrthosiphon pisum differing by their composition in secondary symbionts. This aphid is frequently infected by Hamiltonella defensa, singly or in co-infection with Fukatsuia symbiotica, and both bacterial symbionts generally confer a resistance against parasitoids but also induce fitness costs to their hosts. The pea aphid forms a complex of plant-adapted biotypes, each specialized on one or a few legume species (i.e., native host). These biotypes can all feed on broad bean, considered as a “universal” host plant. Since plants constitute the primary environment of aphids in providing both habitat and resources, we tested if symbiont-mediated protection was influenced by whether plant-specialized aphids fed on their native or universal hosts. For this purpose, parasitism resistance as well as constitutive and induced fitness costs of 21 pea aphid lineages differing in biotype and symbiotic complement were measured on both native and universal host plants. We showed that host plant could exert some influence on the outcomes of symbiotic defenses: while the host plant species had very little effect on the protection level against parasitoids, we showed that both costs of symbiotic association and costs induced by parasitism challenge varied in a plant-dependent manner.


Protective symbionts Genetic variation Hamiltonella defensa Fitness costs Local environment Parasitism resistance 



We are very grateful to all people who helped in sampling aphid lineages in natural populations and to Jean-François Le Gallic for plant production. The associate editor and three anonymous reviewers are also acknowledged for their perceptive and helpful comments on an earlier draft. This work was supported by French ‘Ministère de l’Enseignement Supérieur et de la Recherche’ and by a grant from INRA ‘Santé des Plantes et Environnement’ department. The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Author’s contribution

All authors conceived and designed the experiments. CS and ML conducted the experiments. YO analyzed the data. YO led the writing of the manuscript. YO and J-CS contributed to the supervision of this study. All authors contributed critically to the drafts and gave final approval for publication.

Supplementary material

10682_2019_10005_MOESM1_ESM.docx (37 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 36 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.IGEPP, Agrocampus Ouest, INRAUniversité de Rennes 1, Université Bretagne-LoireRennes CedexFrance
  2. 2.IGEPP, Agrocampus Ouest, INRAUniversité de Rennes 1Le RheuFrance

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