We report on our investigations comparing three juvenile hormone (JH) homologs and two synthetic juvenoids to induce caste differentiation in laboratory colonies of Reticulitermes flavipes and R. tibialis. Two laboratory assays were evaluated as model systems for inducing caste differentiation: (1) shorter-term dish assays on groups of 20 individuals and (2) longer-term feeding assays on groups of 500 individuals. Each assay possessed attributes that can be considered advantageous under certain conditions. Specifically, dish assays were most suitable for presoldier and soldier induction, while jar assays provided for the induction of nymphs, presoldiers, soldiers, neotenic reproductives, and intercastes. Differences in response to the JH homologs and synthetic juvenoids were noted between species, suggesting differences in JH physiology may exist between R. flavipes and R. tibialis. Substantial morphological impacts were noted in association with some treatments, including (1) juvenoid-induced mandibular malformation in presoldiers, (2) JH II-induced abdominal elongation in R. flavipes soldiers and workers (associated with a presence of internal reproductive anatomy that is consistent with what would be expected to occur in pseudergates), and (3) JH II-induced soldier-nymph intercastes in R. tibialis that were able to further molt into soldier-alate intercastes. Findings are discussed in relation to the potential differences in JH-related physiology between R. flavipes and R. tibialis, and the use of model systems to induce rare castes and intercastes for molecular investigations of caste differentiation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Insect Science