Hemolymph ecdysteroid titer and ecdysteroid-dependent developmental events in the last-larval stadium of the silkworm, Bombyx mori: role of low ecdysteroid titer in larval-pupal metamorphosis and a reappraisal of the head critical period

Satake, S.; Kaya, M.; Sakurai, S.

Journal of Insect Physiology 44(10): 867-881


ISSN/ISBN: 0022-1910
PMID: 12770423
DOI: 10.1016/s0022-1910(98)00075-4
Accession: 049205262

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The endocrine regulation of larval-pupal metamorphosis was studied in the silkworm, Bombyx mori, by measuring the following changes: hemolymph ecdysteroid titer, the secretory activity of prothoracic glands and the responsiveness of larvae to ecdysteroids and prothoracicotropic hormone (PTTH), with regard to developmental events such as the occurrence of spinneret pigmentation, initiation of cocoon spinning and onset of wandering stage as indicated by gut purge. These measurements were concentrated especially on the time before and after the head critical period (HCP) which falls 3-4 days before the gut purge ([Sakurai, 1984]). A small increase in the hemolymph ecdysteroid titer was first found during the HCP, and then the titer increased with daily fluctuations. Small but significant titer peaks were found prior to the occurrence of both spinneret pigmentation and gut purge, indicating that an individual titer peak could possess a specific role in development. Responsiveness of larvae to exogenous 20-hydroxyecdysone (20E) after the HCP was markedly higher than that before the HCP. The sensitivity of the prothoracic gland to PTTH also changed during the HCP. The results thus showed that the HCP is not the period after which an additional PTTH release is not required for the developmental events occurring on schedule, but rather it is the period during which complex events occur not only in the endocrine glands but also in the peripheral tissues. In addition, various developmental phenomena before gut purge are brought about by the hemolymph ecdysteroid whose concentration gradually increased with daily fluctuations, and these precise changes in the titer appeared to be important for the sequential occurrence of developmental events in the larval-pupal metamorphosis.