In termites, the soldier caste possesses morphological features suitable for colony defence, despite some exceptions. Soldiers are differentiated via two moultings through a presoldier stage with dramatic morphogenesis. While a number of morphological modifications are known to occur during the presoldier moult, growth and morphogenesis seem to continue even after the moult. The present study, using the damp-wood termite Hodotermopsis sjostedti, carried out morphological and histological investigations on the developmental processes during the presoldier stage that is artificially induced by the application of a juvenile hormone analogue. Measurements of five body parameters indicated that head length significantly increased during the 14-day period after the presoldier moult, while it did not increase subsequently to the stationary moult (pseudergate moult as control). Histological observations also showed that the cuticular development played a role in the presoldier head elongation, suggesting that the soft and flexible presoldier cuticle contributed to the soldier morphogenesis in termites.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
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