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The utilization of multiple castes is a shared feature of social insects. In termites, multiple extrinsic factors have been shown to impact caste differentiation; for example, increased temperature has been shown to increase soldier production. Also, application of exogenous methoprene has also been demonstrated to increase soldier production. The objective of this investigation was to examine and correlate the effects of temperature variation and methoprene treatments on termite caste differentiation, and identify the resulting changes in protein levels. Our results indicate that worker—to—soldier differentiation is modulated by temperature, where a greater number of soldiers developed at a higher rate at higher temperatures compared to lower temperatures. We analyzed total protein by sodium dodecyl sulfate Polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and N-terminal sequencing and found several changes. Specifically, four proteins affected by temperature change were identified: Hexamerin-1, Hexamerin-2, Endo-beta 1,4 glucanase, and myosin. These proteins were further examined for their response to temperature, assay length (time), and exposure to the juvenile hormone analog methoprene. Hexamerin-1 protein showed a temperature—and assay length—dependent effect, while Hexamerin-2, Endo-beta 1, 4 glucanase, and myosin protein levels were all affected by temperature, assay length, and exposure to methoprene. Our analysis allows the correlation of temperature, assay length, and presence of methoprene with specific changes in protein levels that occur during caste differentiation. These results can be directly applied to better understand the complex developmental factors that control termite differentiation and guide the use of juvenile hormone analogs to maximize efficiency of termite eradication in the field.
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