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Alate differentiation and compound-eye development in the dry-wood termite Neotermes koshunensis (Isoptera, Kalotermitidae)

Katoh, H., Matsumoto, T., Miura, T.
Insectes sociaux 2007 v.54 no.1 pp. 11-19
Neotermes koshunensis, active ingredients, caste determination, flight, instars, larvae, molting, ommatidia, pigmentation, social insects
In social insects, caste-specific characters develop in the postembryonic differentiation processes. However, the mechanisms of caste-specific organ development have yet to be elucidated. In order to obtain insights into the relationship between caste differentiation and the regulation of organ development, we determined the caste-developmental pathway and observed compound-eye development accompanying alate differentiation in the dry-wood termite, Neotermes koshunensis. As previously reported in other Neotermes, this species has a linear caste-developmental pathway, comprising six larval- and two nymphal-instar stages. Although the apparent eye formation occurs during the last nymphal stages, just prior to the imaginal molt, individuals possess eye primordia from the first larval-instar stage. The outer morphological structure of the eye was observed from the third larval-instar stage. The detailed differentiation of cells constituting ommatidia appeared to occur in relatively young larval instars (fourth stage), although the pigmentation of pigment cells and detailed structural formation of ommatidia occurred during the final stage of alate development, i.e., during the late second nymphal-instar stage. This suggests that eye development is arrested in the larval stages, and then resumed during the late nymphal stage to complete functional eye formation, which is required for nuptial flight. In comparison to major hemimetabolous insects, which possess functional compound eyes even at the first instar larva, this termite species shows the heterochronic shift in terms of compound-eye development.