Neotenic reproductives influence worker caste differentiation in the termite Reticulitermes speratus (Isoptera; Rhinotermitidae)

Yoshinobu Hayashi, Hitoshi Miyata, Osamu Kitade, Nathan Lo

Abstract


Division of labor among castes in social insect colonies increases ergonomic efficiency and colony-level fitness, and has played a key role in the ecological success of social insects. Knowledge of the factors that regulate castes is important for understanding adaptive social organization. Our previous study on the termite Reticulitermes speratus demonstrated that the presence of a pair of nymphoid reproductives during development affected offspring caste ratios. In the present study, we investigated further the influence of individual neotenics on offspring caste ratios. Parthenogenetically-produced offspring were reared in worker-tended experimental colonies with the addition of different forms (nymphoid or ergatoid) and numbers of neotenics, and compared the caste ratios of the offspring between the different experimental treatments. We found that all offspring in worker-only tended colonies became nymphs, while a proportion of offspring in colonies with a single neotenic (with the exception of male ergatoids) differentiated into workers. These results show offspring caste ratios are influenced by the presence of single female ergatoids, single female and male nymphoids, while they remain unaffected by the presence of male ergatoids.


Keywords


caste determination; parental effect; parthenogenesis; social organization

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References


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13102/sociobiology.v60i4.446-452

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