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Annu Rev Entomol. 1996;41:407-31.

The role of nourishment in oogenesis.

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Department of Entomology, University of Arizona, Tucson 85721, USA.


Oogenesis in insects is typically a nutrient-limited process, triggered only if sufficient nourishment is available. This nourishment can be acquired during the larval or adult stage, depending on the insect. Timing of food intake will have major effects on mechanisms of hormonal control. When nourishment for eggs is taken primarily by adults, insufficient nutrition inhibits egg development through mechanisms such as inhibition of corpora allata, as seen in Orthoptera and Blattaria. In adult Diptera, lack of protein inhibits release of brain factors that produce reproductive competency or ovarian stimulation. Lepidoptera have been characterized as lacking substantial regulation of oogenesis because egg development is underway at emergence. Many species for which ecological data are available do not mobilize reserves carried over from the larval stage until they feed as adults. The endocrine mechanisms underlying these systems are poorly understood. In many insects, mating and activity can affect nutritional state and therefore oogenesis. Mating can stimulate oogenesis through mobilization of reserves or through nutritional contributions by males to females. Activity, especially flight, and oogenesis can compete for energy. The flight apparatus, especially the muscle, can also compete with oogenesis for protein. Social insects exhibit extreme specializations in oogenesis; females range in fertility from completely sterile to hyperfecund. Food flow within colonies is a major factor regulating fecundity. Finally, maternal nourishment is not needed for oogenesis in parasitoids and pseudoplacental viviparous insects, which produce eggs with little or no yolk. Virtually nothing is known about the endocrine regulation of oogenesis on these insects.

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