Navigation Links
Don't let your termites grow up to be mommies
Date:7/8/2010

A North Carolina State University entomologist has for the first time shown which specific chemicals are used by some termite queens to prevent other termites in the colony from becoming mommies like themselves.

In a study published online this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, NC State's Dr. Ed Vargo and colleagues from Japan and Switzerland show that a combination of two chemical compounds in a pheromone perfume emitted by egg-laying females known as secondary queens can inhibit other termites from developing into new queens. Moreover, the study shows that termite eggs also produce the caste-altering chemicals.

"This study opens up a whole new world into the mechanisms behind the ways colonies of termites and other social insects regulate themselves," Vargo says. "With this long missing key ingredient now in hand, I expect we'll see rapid progress in understanding how reproductive and nonreproductive termite castes develop."

Secondary queens don't prevent other termites in the colony from becoming mommies out of spite, Vargo says. It's more a case of keeping the colony balanced with the correct numbers of caste members. Colonies need the proper proportion of workers who forage for food and take care of larvae, soldiers who defend the colony, and secondary queens who lay eggs to increase a colony's numbers. The wrong balance could spell doom for the colony.

Termites molt frequently throughout their lives and can change castes depending on conditions in the colony. In the study, the scientists exposed different castes of termites that have the capacity to become secondary queens to both the actual pheromone perfume elicited from secondary queens and a synthetic version of the perfume. Both treatments prevented termites from becoming secondary queens.

Scientists have long believed that queen pheromones regulate caste development in social insects, but this finding is only the second such discovery in the past 50 years when the term pheromone was coined by scientists. This is partly due, Vargo says, to scientists looking for the wrong types of chemicals.

"The pheromone a combination of two chemicals called n-butyl-n-butyrate and 2-methyl-1-butanol is a low-weight, volatile blend that acts directly on developing termites," he says. That is in contrast to queen honey bees, for example, whose pheromone acts indirectly by regulating the queen-rearing behavior of worker bees.


'/>"/>

Contact: Dr. Ed Vargo
ed_vargo@ncsu.edu
919-513-2743
North Carolina State University
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Periodontitis and myocardial infarction: A shared genetic predisposition
2. Prevent periodontitis to reduce the risk of head and neck cancer
3. Did termites help Katrina destroy New Orleans floodwalls?
4. Diuscovery in amber reveals ancient biology of termites
5. New assay helps track termites and other insects
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:3/18/2016)... March 18, 2016 --> ... Biometrics, ICT, Manned & Unmanned Vehicles, Physical infrastructure and Perimeter ... companies in the border security market and the continuing migration ... Europe has led visiongain to publish ... success. --> defence & security companies in ...
(Date:3/15/2016)... , March 15, 2016 Yissum ... , the technology-transfer company of the Hebrew University, announced ... of remote sensing technology of various human biological indicators. ... raising $2.0 million from private investors. ... based on the detection of electromagnetic emissions from sweat ...
(Date:3/11/2016)... -- http://www.apimages.com ) - --> http://www.apimages.com ) ... AP Images ( http://www.apimages.com ) - Germany ... the new refugee identity cards. DERMALOG will be unveiling this device, ... Hanover next week.   --> Germany ... produce the new refugee identity cards. DERMALOG will be unveiling this ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:4/28/2016)... ... April 28, 2016 , ... Next ... a talk on its first-in-class technologies for tissue stem cell counting and expansion ... RNAiMicroRNA Biology to Reprogramming & CRISPR-based Genome Engineering in Burlington, Massachusetts. , The ...
(Date:4/27/2016)... Boston (PRWEB) , ... April 27, 2016 , ... ... driven by semantic web technology, today announced that it has been named to The ... life sciences, financial services and other markets, Cambridge Semantics serves the needs of end ...
(Date:4/27/2016)... York, NY (PRWEB) , ... April 27, 2016 ... ... realizing it. Touch screen mobile devices with fingerprint recognition for secure access, ... libraries are only a few ways consumers are interacting with biometrics technology today. ...
(Date:4/27/2016)... , ... April 27, 2016 , ... ... is pleased to announce the appointment of John Tilton as Chief Commercial Officer.  ... Director and one of the founding commercial leaders responsible for the commercialization of ...
Breaking Biology Technology: