Ecological Research

, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 83–92 | Cite as

Caste developmental system of the Japanese damp-wood termite Hodotermopsis japonica (Isoptera: Termopsidae)

  • Toru Miura
  • Yoshiyuki Hirono
  • Mitsuyo Machida
  • Osamu Kitade
  • Tadao Matsumoto
Original Articles

Caste developmental pathways of the Japanese damp-wood termite Hodotermopsis japonica Holmgren were estimated by measuring body parts. From the size distribution of head-width, seven peaks were recognized in populations of larvae. Of these peaks, the seventh has a wide range and variance, indicating that it represents several instars. The individuals that make up the seventh peak, which take the role of workers (pseudergate), are suggested to enter the nymphal stage(s), which has brachypterous wing buds, prior to becoming alates. The pseudergates appear to be totipotent, that is, capable of differentiating into any caste, including reproductives and soldiers. Sixth instars and pseudergates have the potential to become soldiers via a presoldier stage. Although the evolution of caste systems in termites is controversial, the linear developmental pathway found in this study is thought to be the typical pattern in lower termites. Sexual discrimination was also investigated, males and females being easily distinguished by examining the seventh abdominal sternites of individuals older than fourth instar larvae. Both sexes appear to follow the same caste developmental pathway.

Key words

head-width lower termite pseudergate seventh sternite sexual dimorphism wing development 

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Copyright information

© Blackwell Science Asia Pty. Ltd. 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Toru Miura
    • 1
  • Yoshiyuki Hirono
    • 1
  • Mitsuyo Machida
    • 1
  • Osamu Kitade
    • 1
  • Tadao Matsumoto
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyGraduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of TokyoMeguro-kuJapan

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