Prostaglandin A3 regulates the colony development of Odontotermes formosanus by reducing worker proportion

Crop Health. 2024;2(1):11. doi: 10.1007/s44297-024-00030-3. Epub 2024 Jul 2.


Subterranean termites cause significant economic losses worldwide due to their destruction of agricultural and forest plants. In the past, soil termiticides were commonly used to control subterranean termites because they were effective and affordable. However, due to growing environmental concerns, these harmful substances have become less popular as they cause damage to non-target organisms and lead to environmental contamination. Baits crafted from plants and other easily metabolized compounds serve as excellent alternatives. In this study, we gathered branches from the promising plant, Magnolia grandiflora L. (MGL), along with branches from five other tree species that are potential food for termites. These branches were used as food to observe the population growth of Odontotermes formosanus. Additionally, a mix of branches from all six species was used to feed the control group (MIX). The study results showed that MGL nutrition significantly inhibited worker development, resulting in a significantly lower worker-to-soldier ratio (WSR). Furthermore, LC‒MS/MS analysis revealed that the level of prostaglandin A3 (PGA3) in workers significantly increased when they were under MGL nutrition. Additionally, ICP-MS analysis indicated a significant increase in calcium concentrations in the branches of MGL and combs under MGL nutrition. Moreover, there was a significant increase in peroxidase (POD) activity in workers under MGL nutrition. These findings suggest that the inhibitory effect of MGL nutrition on worker development may be due to excessive PGA3 synthesis, as Ca2+ and POD are involved in the synthesis process of PGs in insects. Subsequent verification experiments strongly support this hypothesis, as the WSR of colonies fed PGA3-added MIX was significantly lower than that of the MIX alone. This study introduces a new concept for developing environmentally friendly biological control methods for O. formosanus and sheds light on the potential role of PGs in termite development.

Supplementary information: The online version contains supplementary material available at 10.1007/s44297-024-00030-3.

Keywords: Magnolia grandiflora L.; Metabolome analysis; Odontotermes formosanus; Population development; Prostaglandin A3.