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Early springtime water absorption by overwintering eggs of Mindarus abietinus (Hemiptera: Aphididae): possible implications for cold hardiness and diapause termination

  • Jean-François Doherty (a1), Jean-Frédéric Guay (a1) and Conrad Cloutier (a1)


Eggs of the balsam twig aphid Mindarus abietinus Koch (Hemiptera: Aphididae) overwinter for several months in obligate diapause, which terminates in early springtime when embryogenesis of the stem mother supposedly resumes. Important shape and size changes were observed on eggs collected at regular intervals during late winter and early spring. These observations led to the visual classification of eggs into three shape categories: flat eggs (C1), semi-flat eggs (C2), and round and turgid eggs (C3). Egg mass significantly increased with time during late winter and early spring, which coincided with the noticeable changes in morphological composition (i.e., from C2 to C3). Our observations suggest that free water surrounding eggs on fir (Abies balsamea (Linnaeus) Miller; Pinaceae) shoots is essential for M. abietinus normal embryonic development during snowmelt. Also, reduced egg water content during winter could modify its supercooling point, and the renewed availability of water in springtime may signal diapause termination and/or initiate embryogenesis of the stem mother.

Les œufs hivernants du puceron des pousses du sapin Mindarus abietinus Koch (Hemiptera : Aphididae) passent plusieurs mois en diapause obligatoire, qui se termine tôt au printemps, alors que l’embryogenèse de la fondatrice recommence. Des changements morphologiques importants des œufs échantillonnés à différentes dates ont été observés à la fin de l’hiver et au début du printemps, permettant leur classification en trois catégories : les œufs aplatis (C1), les œufs semi-aplatis (C2) et les œufs ronds et turgides (C3). En mesurant régulièrement la masse fraîche d’œufs hivernants durant leur longue période de dormance, il a été possible d’observer une augmentation progressive de la masse durant la transition de l’hiver au printemps, coïncidant avec le changement de la forme des œufs, de la catégorie C2 vers C3. Nos observations suggèrent que l’eau environnante sur les pousses de sapin (Abies balsamea (Linnaeus) Miller ; Pinaceae) est essentielle au développement des œufs de M. abietinus tôt au printemps, lors de la fonte des neiges. Elles suggèrent aussi l’hypothèse que le point de surfusion des œufs durant l’hiver est lié à leur teneur en eau, et que l’eau environnante à la fin de l’hiver est un signal de terminaison de la diapause obligatoire et de reprise de l’embryogenèse de la fondatrice.


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Subject editor: Brent Sinclair



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