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Keywords:

  • body-color polymorphism;
  • locusts;
  • albinism, neuropeptide;
  • corazonin;
  • juvenile hormone

Abstract

The present article reviews recent published and unpublished findings on the hormonal mechanisms for the control of body-color polymorphism in locusts. Emphasis is placed on the dark color–inducing factors and their role in the induction of various types of body coloration observed under different environmental conditions. Implantation of corpora cardiaca (CC) taken from normal nymphs of Locusta migratoria induced dark color in nymphs of an albino strain. Using the albino strain for the bioassay, a neuropeptide, [His7]-corazonin, was identified as a dark color–inducing factor for L. migratoria and Schistocerca gregaria. In the former, depending upon the dose and timing of the injection, this peptide and juvenile hormone developed various body colors looking like those found in nature. The body coloration characteristic of gregarious forms was also induced in isolated albino nymphs and field-collected solitary nymphs. In S. gregaria, on the other hand, the peptide induced black patterns, but the orange or yellow background color observed in gregarious forms was not induced when the peptide was injected into solitary individuals. [His7]-corazonin also induced darkening in other grasshoppers and locusts, but not in katydids. Albino L. migratoria developed dark color when implanted with brains or CC taken from other insects belonging to 10 major insect orders, but not with those from Coleoptera. [His7]-corazonin or a similar compound is widespread among insects and plays a pivotal role in controlling body color in some species and presumably other physiological roles in other species. Arch. Insect Biochem. Physiol. 47:139–149, 2001. © 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.