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Increased Susceptibility to Aphids of Flowering Wheat Plants Exposed to Low Temperatures

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Frost is known to directly affect flowering wheat plants (Triticum aestivum L.) and lead to reduced grain yield. Additionally, it may increase wheat susceptibility to economically important pests, such as aphids (Hemiptera: Aphididae). Wheat plants at flowering stage were exposed to one of the three temperature treatments: ambient (11-12°C), 0°C, and -3°C for 60 min. Preference (3-choice) and performance (no-choice) bioassays with aphids (Rhopalosiphum padi L.) were conducted 1, 3, 6, and 12 d after temperature treatments to assess effects of temperature-induced stress over time. As an initial feasibility study of using remote sensing technologies to detect frost-induced stress in flowering wheat plants, hyperspectral imaging data were acquired from wheat plants used in preference bioassays. Element analysis of wheat plants was included to determine the effect of temperature-induced stress on the nutritional composition of flowering wheat plants. The results from this study support the following cause-effect scenario: a 60-min exposure to low temperatures caused a significant decrease in potassium and copper content of wheat plants 6 d after temperature exposure, and it coincided with a marked increase in preference by aphids of wheat plants. The preference exhibited by aphids correlated positively with performance of aphids, so the preference-performance hypothesis was confirmed and possibly driven by potassium and copper content of wheat plants. In addition, we demonstrated that hyperspectral imaging data can be used to detect frost-induced susceptibility to aphid infestation in flowering wheat plants. These findings justify further research into airborne remote sensing of frost-induced stress and the possible secondary effects on crop susceptibility to arthropod pests.

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