Modification of tree architecture by a gall-forming aphid

L. Kurzfeld-Zexer, D. Wool, Moshe Inbar*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Herbivory may substantially alter the architectural structure of plants. Among insects, gall-formers that substantially manipulate host traits may have a profound effect on the plants even at low densities. The aphid, Baizongia pistaciae induces banana-like large galls on the terminal buds of Pistacia palaestina. We hypothesized that these large galls are associated with the shape of the plant which may grow as a tree or a bush. In the natural Mediterranean forest, we monitored the effects of the galls on infested branches. In the year of gall formation, usually (~95%) there is neither elongation nor branching beyond the position of the gall. However, in the following years, galled branches produced more lateral branches (branching) than ungalled branches. This effect persists for at least 2 years. Consequently, galled branches carried more leaves and tended to gain more biomass than ungalled branches. Galling did not affect fruit yield. We suggest that repeated galling by B. pistaciae may promote bush-like architecture in P. palaestina.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-18
Number of pages6
JournalTrees - Structure and Function
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2010


  • Apical dominance
  • Branching
  • Compensation
  • Herbivory
  • Long-term effect


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