, Volume 49, Issue 3, pp 245-250

Morphometric changes during soldier differentiation of the damp-wood termite Hodotermopsis japonica (Isoptera, Termopsidae)

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To clarify the allometric development of body parts accompanying soldier differentiation in termites, we measured 16 body parts of soldiers, presoldiers, pseudergates (workers), nymphs and larvae of the damp-wood termite Hodotermopsis japonica. Principal component analysis (PCA) was performed using these parameters, which revealed that differentiation into soldiers differed distinctly from development into adult (reproductive) individuals. In particular, the anterior body parts enlarged during development of soldiers. Similarly, elongation of the apical portion of both mandibles was noted during soldier differentiation. X-ray analysis of mandibles revealed sclerotization of the soldier mandibles after differentiation into terminal soldiers. These morphological changes during soldier differentiation are associated with changes in their roles within the colony. Through soldier differentiation, the morphology of this caste of termite becomes functionally suited for attacking predators, and unsuitable for feeding on wood using their mandibles. Based on these data, we suggest that there must be some morphogenetic factors leading caste specific morphology such as soldier mandibles.

Received 10 September 2001; revised 2 April 2002; accepted 9 April 2002.