Aphid soldier differentiation: density acts on both embryos and newborn nymphs
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The mechanism of caste differentiation in a social aphid Tuberaphis styraci, which has a sterile soldier caste in the 2nd instar, was investigated using an artificial diet rearing system. High aphid density induced soldier production. Combinatorial prenatal and postnatal density treatments revealed that (1) either prenatal high density or postnatal high density is sufficient for soldier induction; (2) thus, embryos in the maternal body and newborn 1st instar nymphs are both responsive to high density; (3) the combination of prenatal high density and postnatal high density enhances soldier differentiation in a synergistic manner; and (4) the final determination of soldier differentiation occurs postnatally, probably at a late 1st instar stage. This study first throws light on the developmental aspects of caste differentiation in a social aphid.