Stomach bug hits aphids

18 July 1997

Stomach bug hits aphids

A SEVERE stomach disorder which kills aphids feeding on older sugar beet plants could help protect the crop against virus.

The crash in aphid numbers each summer could be due to the hardening of dark stomach contents just before they die, argues Iain Williams, leader of a joint project between IACR Brooms Barn and the University of East Anglia. "The stomach contents set like concrete. Its amazing stuff. Its almost impossible to break down."

The phenomenon, caused by an unknown chemical, occurs when plants reach the 12 leaf stage. "If we could make that happen earlier, when aphids enter the crop, we could have something really useful," says Mr Williams.n

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