Endogenous synchronization of the chemical signature of Reticulitermes (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae) worker termites

Abstract : Termites of the genus Reticulitermes are characteristic of temperate regions. Their colonies comprise various castes, the most numerous being that of workers which can develop into soldiers or secondary reproductives (neotenics). Each caste has a mixture of hydrocarbons (HCs) on the cuticle forming a chemical signature. The primary aim of this study was to compare the changes in the chemical signature of a population of worker termites fed on paper with juvenile hormone to differentiate them into soldiers with a control population of termites fed only on paper or wood for one month. Gas chromatography was used to analyze the cuticular profi les of Reticulitermes fl avipes termites to determine whether they changed, and, if so, when and how. The data collected over one month showed that the workers fed with JH did not differentiate into soldiers but that there were progressive changes in the hydrocarbon profi le independent of the treatment. These results indicate that the differentiation of the chemical signature of the worker caste is a dynamic process, depending only on time and not on colony membership, confi rming that, for these termites, this signature has a lesser role in colony membership than caste membership, unlike the chemical signatures of other social insects. The temporal process of this cuticular change is also associated with a change in the alkene / methyl-branched alkane ratio.
Document type :
Journal articles
Complete list of metadatas

Contributor : Aicha Belloufi <>
Submitted on : Tuesday, November 8, 2011 - 11:42:41 AM
Last modification on : Friday, June 7, 2019 - 10:55:28 AM


  • HAL Id : hal-00639107, version 1



Anne-Geneviève Bagnères, Éric Darrouzet, Xavier Landré, Jean-Philippe Christidès. Endogenous synchronization of the chemical signature of Reticulitermes (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae) worker termites. Annales de la Société Entomologique de France, Taylor & Francis, 2011, 47 (1-2), pp.202-208. ⟨hal-00639107⟩



Record views