Comparative studies on alate wing formation in two related species of rotten-wood termites: Hodotermopsis sjostedti and Zootermopsis nevadensis (Isoptera, Termopsidae)
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Termite colonies are comprised of several types of castes that differentiate throughout postembryonic development. In termopsid termites (family Termopsidae), alates are normally differentiated from apterous instars by two nymphal instar stages and three moulting events. Here, we report that of the rotten-wood termite Hodotermopsis sjostedti. There is only a single nymphal instar between the pseudergate and alate stages. During the annual alate production season in June/July, we observed some nymphs with small wing buds which were dorsally swollen. Those nymphal individuals subsequently moulted into alates through only a single moult. We examined their histology and internal morphology and observed that the folding pattern of the newly formed wings was very different from that seen in second stage nymphs of the closely related species Zootermopsis nevadensis. The newly formed wings of H. sjostedti are formed inside the relatively smaller wing buds and therefore must be folded in a complicated manner. Our observations revealed that the tips of the folded wings were elongated and bent, such that they overlapped in the median plane. We suggest that heterochronic evolutionary change accounts for the compression of nymphal development into a single instar. We also suggest that this probably occurred at either the individual or colony level in this species.
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