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Data from: Dopamine regulates termite soldier differentiation through trophallactic behaviours


Yaguchi, Hajime; Inoue, Takaya; Sasaki, Ken; Maekawa, Kiyoto (2016), Data from: Dopamine regulates termite soldier differentiation through trophallactic behaviours, Dryad, Dataset,


Caste polyphenism in social insects is regulated by social interactions among colony members. Trophallaxis is one of the most frequently observed interactions, but no studies have been conducted identifying the intrinsic factors involved in this behaviour and caste differentiation. Dopamine (DA) has multiple roles in the modulation of behaviours and physiology, and it produces species-specific behaviours in animals. Here, to verify the role of DA in termite soldier differentiation, we focused on the first soldier in an incipient colony of Zootermopsis nevadensis, which always differentiates from the oldest 3rd instar (No. 1 larva) via a presoldier. First, brain DA levels of the No. 1 larva at day 3 after its appearance were significantly higher than day 0. Second, DA synthesis gene expression levels were extraordinarily high in the No. 1 larva at day 0–1 after appearance. Finally, injection of a DA receptor antagonist into the No. 1 larva resulted in the inhibition of presoldier differentiation. Behavioural observations of the antagonist or control-injected larvae suggested that brain DA and signalling activity regulate the frequencies of trophallaxis from reproductives and presoldier differentiation. Because trophallaxis is a social behaviour frequently observed in natural conditions, the role of DA should be investigated in other social insects with frequent trophallactic and allogrooming behaviour.

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