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Insects 2018, 9(2), 37; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects9020037

Parental Nitrogen Transfer and Apparent Absence of N2 Fixation during Colony Foundation in Coptotermes formosanus Shiraki

Department of Entomology and Nematology, Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33314, USA
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Received: 15 February 2018 / Revised: 20 March 2018 / Accepted: 22 March 2018 / Published: 26 March 2018
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Abstract

Colony foundation and early growth is a critical period in the life-cycle of a termite colony, as the initial family unit is resource limited. One such resource is nitrogen, which is essential for initial colony growth. This study examined the whole-colony nitrogen inventory during foundation and early growth of Coptotermes formosanus Shiraki colonies. It was hypothesized that termite colonies would go through an initial period of parental investment, representing a transfer of nitrogen to the first brood, and that once a functional worker caste was present, further provisioning in the form of intrinsic N2 fixation would occur. Our results showed that, when in nitrogen-poor rearing conditions, the king and queen initially transferred half of their nitrogen reserves to their first brood. However, the total nitrogen content in colonies did not increase over a 12 month period, despite the presence of functional workers. Furthermore, colonies did not increase their biomass beyond the initial parental investment. Together, these results imply that nitrogen acquisition in incipient C. formosanus colonies relies on environmental or dietary sources, rather than the putative fixation through symbiotic diazotrophs. View Full-Text
Keywords: brood care; parental investment; dinitrogen brood care; parental investment; dinitrogen
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Mullins, A.; Su, N.-Y. Parental Nitrogen Transfer and Apparent Absence of N2 Fixation during Colony Foundation in Coptotermes formosanus Shiraki. Insects 2018, 9, 37.

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