Nicotinamide (NAM) alters behavior in C. elegans and Drosophila, serving as an agonist of TRPV channels affecting sensory neurons and mimicking the mode of action of insecticides used to control phloem-feeding insects. The impact of NAM on green peach aphid (Myzus persicae) behaviors was assessed in artificial diet assays and foliar applications to Arabidopsis plants. Aphids feeding on artificial diets supplemented with NAM impaired stylet movement causing feeding interruptions and ultimately starvation and death. Aphid feeding behaviors were negatively impacted on NAM sprayed plants at concentrations as low as 2.5 mM leading to increased mortality. In choice assays with NAM sprayed leaves aphids showed clear preference for untreated control leaves. NAM is an intermediate in the NAD salvage pathway that should accumulate in nicotinamidase (nic) mutants. LC-MS analysis showed NAM accumulates 60-fold in nic-1-1 Arabidopsis mutants as compared with Col-0. Aphid reproductive potential was significantly decreased on nic-1-1 mutant plants, resulting in a smaller colony size and arrested population development. The results support the hypothesis that dietary NAM causes behavioral changes in aphids, including altered feeding, reduced reproduction, and increased mortality. NAM is thought to bind to TRPV channels causing overstimulation of sensory neurons in the aphid feeding apparatus.
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