Termite castes express specialized phenotypes for their own tasks and are a good example of insect polyphenism. To understand the comprehensive gene expression profiles during caste differentiation, RNA-seq analysis based on the genome data was performed during the worker, presoldier, and nymphoid molts in Reticulitermes speratus. In this species, artificial induction methods for each molt have already been established, and the time scale has been clarified. Three different periods (before the gut purge (GP), during the GP, and after the molt) were discriminated in each molt, and two body parts (head and other body regions) were separately sampled. The results revealed that many differentially expressed genes (head: 2884, body: 2579) were identified in each molt. Based on the independent real-time quantitative PCR analysis, we confirmed the different expression patterns of seven out of eight genes in the presoldier molt. Based on the GO and KEGG enrichment analyses, the expressions of genes related to juvenile hormone titer changes (e.g., JH acid methyltransferase), nutrition status (e.g., Acyl-CoA Delta desaturase), and cell proliferation (e.g., insulin receptor), were shown to specifically fluctuate in each molt. These differences may have a crucial impact on caste differentiation. These data are important resources for future termite sociogenomics.
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