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Peritrophic Matrix of the Formosan Subterranean Termite (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae)

Florida Entomologist


Scientific Notes 99 PERITROPHIC MATRIX OF THE FORMOSAN SUBTERRANEAN TERMITE (ISOPTERA: RHINOTERMITIDAE) J. A. M ORALES -R AMOS 1 , M. G. R OJAS 1 AND H. S ITTERTZ -B HATKAR 2 . 1 USDA-ARS Southern Regional Research Center, Formosan Subterranean Termite Research Unit New Orleans, LA 70124 2 Texas A&M University, Image Analysis Laboratory, College of Veterinary Medicine College Station, TX 77843-2257 The peritrophic matrix in many insects is con- tinuously being synthesized in the mesenteron and excreted with the fecal matter (Wigglesworth 1972; Richards & Richards 1977; Tellam 1996; Lehane 1997). Peritrophic matrices are classified into 2 types according to the way they are synthe- sized in the mesenteron. Type I is made of concen- tric lamellae loosely attached to one another and synthesized by the epithelial cells through the length of the mesenteron, while type II is a single uniform layer synthesized by a group of cells in the anterior limit of the mesenteron (Wigglesworth 1972; Tellam 1996; Lehane 1997). The peritrophic matrix is most commonly made of γ -chitin, which is considerably more flexible than α -chitin while in the presence of water (Herburn 1985). Wiggles- worth (1972) mentions that termites may possess type II peritrophic matrices, but this has not been confirmed. The objective of this study was to deter- mine the type of peritrophic matrix present in Coptotermes formosanus Shiraki. Formosan subterranean termites were col- lected from 2 different localities (City Park and Gretna) around the New Orleans metropolitan area. All the termites were brought to the labora- tory in plastic containers. An infested pine log and carton nest were separately transferred to a 75.7- L plastic trash container, containing 10 L of top- soil: sand mixture at 1:1 ratio and 3 L distilled wa- ter. Pieces of wood (

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