Differential expression of cytochrome c oxidase subunit III gene in castes of the termite Reticulitermes santonensis

Marjorie A. Liénard, Jean-Marc X.S. Lassance, Ivan Paulmier, Jean-François Picimbon, Christer Löfstedt
  • Journal of Insect Physiology, June 2006, Elsevier
  • DOI: 10.1016/j.jinsphys.2006.02.002

Molecular basis of long-term memory in termites: conspecific workers learn and never forget

What is it about?

Termites are social insects that belong to different castes (the reproductive, the workers and the soldiers) to establish a colony. Like in ants, it is well establish that physical and behavioral castes of termites often differ in chemical odor. However, while chemical odors in termites are extensively studied, still very little is known about how reticuliterms and consors detect, perceive, interpret and memorize those specific olfactory signals.

Why is it important?

Upon discovery of insect chemosensory proteins (Picimbon, 2003; Picimbon and Leal, 1999; Picimbon et al., 2000a,b, 2001), this piece of work is a pioneer study of the molecular mechanisms behind odor detection in termites. While many CSPs could be reported from many various insect species, no CSPs could ever been reported from reticuliterms and consors. Surprizingly, not only CSPs but also cytochrome oxidases exhibit caste-specific changes in gene expression.


Prof. Dr. Jean-François Jeff Picimbon (Author)
Qilu University of Technology

In collaboration with CTBA (France), we extracted RNA from various castes in many various reticuliterm species and ran multiple PCRs using CSP-specific primers. In this preliminary study, one clone was found to be highly expressed in all castes, but mainly in workers. Sequencing identified a portion of cytochrome oxidase gene, which decided a master's topic in support of Erasmus exchange program between Sweden and Belgium. Since then, a question remains as to whether CSP and cytochrome oxidase genes shared motifs, involved convergent evolution and/or reconstructed independently. Xuan et al. have shown that CSP and cytochrome oxidase genes are both up-regulated by insecticide exposure in a tissue-specific manner (Insect Science, 2015).

The following have contributed to this page: Prof. Dr. Jean-François Jeff Picimbon