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J Insect Sci. 2008;8:1-18. doi: 10.1673/031.008.6801.

Distribution of neuropeptide F-like immunoreactivity in the Eastern Subterranean termite, Reticulitermes flavipes.

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  • 1Department of Entomology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, USA.


The nervous system and gut of worker, soldier and alate castes of the eastern subterranean termite, Reticulitermes flavipes Kollar (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae) were examined for immunoreactivity to an antiserum to Helicoverpa zea (Boddie) (Leipidoptera: Noctuidae) MP-I (QAARPRF-NH(2)), a truncated form of neuropeptide F. More than 145 immunostained axons and cell bodies were seen in the brain and all ganglia of the ventral nerve cord. Immunoreactive axons exiting the brain projected anteriorly to the frontal ganglion and posteriorly to the corpora cardiaca and corpora allata. In the stomatogastric nervous system, immunoreactive axons were observed over the surface of the foregut, salivary glands, midgut and rectum. These axons originated in the brain and from 15-25 neurosecretory cells on the foregut. Staining patterns were consistent between castes, with the exception of immunostaining observed in the optic lobes of alates. At least 600 immunoreactive endocrine cells were evenly distributed in the midguts of all castes with higher numbers present in the worker caste. Immunostaining of cells in the nervous system and midgut was blocked by preabsorption of the antiserum with Hez MP-I but not by a peptide having only the RF-NH(2) in common. This distribution suggests NPF-like peptides coordinate feeding and digestion in all castes of this termite species.

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