Epigenetics and developmental plasticity in orthopteroid insects. Academic Article uri icon


  • Developmental plasticity is a key driver of the extraordinary ecological success of insects. Epigenetic mechanisms provide an important link between the external stimuli that initiate polyphenisms, and the stable changes in gene expression that govern alternative insect morphs. We review the epigenetics of orthopteroid insects, focussing on recent research on locusts and termites, two groups which display high levels of phenotypic plasticity, and for which genome sequences have become available in recent years. We examine research on the potential role of DNA methylation, histone modifications, and non-coding RNAs in the regulation of gene expression in these insects. DNA methylation patterns in orthopteroids share a number of characteristics with those of hymenopteran insects, although methylation levels are much higher, and extend to introns and repeat elements. Future examinations of epigenetic mechanisms in these insects will benefit from comparison of tissues from aged-matched individuals from alternative morphs, and adequate biological replication.

published proceedings

  • Curr Opin Insect Sci

altmetric score

  • 0.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Lo, N., Simpson, S. J., & Sword, G. A.

citation count

  • 18

complete list of authors

  • Lo, Nathan||Simpson, Stephen J||Sword, Gregory A

publication date

  • February 2018