Endocrine changes in maturing primary queens of Zootermopsis angusticollis. Academic Article uri icon


  • Termite queens are highly specialized for reproduction, but little is known about the endocrine mechanisms regulating this ability. We studied changes in the endocrinology and ovarian maturation in primary reproductive females of the dampwood termite Zootermopsis angusticollis following their release from inhibitory stimuli produced by mature queens. Winged alates were removed from their natal nest, manually dewinged, then paired in an isolated nest with a reproductive male. Development was tracked by monitoring ovarian development, in vitro rates of juvenile hormone (JH) production by corpora allata, and hemolymph titers of JH and ecdysteroids. The production rate and titer of JH were positively correlated with each other but negatively correlated with ecdysteroid titer. Four days after disinhibition, JH release and titer decreased while ecdysteroid titer increased. The new levels persisted until day 30, after which JH increased and ecdysteroids decreased. Fully mature queens had the highest rates of JH production, the lowest ecdysteroid titers, and the greatest number of functional ovarioles. The results support the hypothesis that JH plays a dual role in termite queens depending on their stage of development; an elevated JH titer in immature alates may maintain reproductive inhibition, but an elevated JH titer in mature queens may stimulate ovarian activity. The decline in JH production and the elevation in ecdysteroid titer correspond to a period of physiological reorganization and activation. The specific function of ecdysteroids is unknown but they may help to modulate the activity of the corpora allata.

published proceedings

  • J Insect Physiol

author list (cited authors)

  • Brent, C. S., Schal, C., & Vargo, E. L.

complete list of authors

  • Brent, Colin S||Schal, Coby||Vargo, Edward L

publication date

  • January 1, 2005 11:11 AM