Insights into how longicorn beetle larvae determine the timing of metamorphosis: Starvation-induced mechanism revisited

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© 2016 Nagamine et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Larvae of holometabolous insects must determine the timing of their metamorphosis. How they determine this timing has only been studied in detail for a few insect species. In a few species of Coleoptera, starvation is known to be a cue for metamorphosis, leading to the formation of smaller adults (starvation-induced pupation, SiP). We investigated the occurrence of SiP in the beetle Psacothea hilaris. When P. hilaris larvae were starved late in the feeding phase of the last (5th) instar, they exhibited typical SiP characterized by constancy of the time from food deprivation to pupation (TTP) irrespective of the body weight upon food deprivation or the length of prior feeding. In contrast, when larvae were starved early in the feeding phase, TTP decreased by roughly 1 day as the feeding became 1 day longer. The change in the response to starvation was estimated to occur on day 5.9 in the last instar. A series of refeeding experiments suggested that whereas SiP occurred readily in the larvae starved in the late feeding phase, activation of SiP was suspended until day 5.9 in the larvae starved early in the feeding phase. When P. hilaris larvae were fed continuously, they eventually ceased feeding spontaneously and pupated. The time length between spontaneous cessation of feeding and pupation was approximately equal to the TTP in SiP. This suggests that the same mechanism was activated by food deprivation in the late feeding phase and by spontaneous cessation of ad libitum feeding.




Nagamine, K., Ishikawa, Y., & Hoshizaki, S. (2016). Insights into how longicorn beetle larvae determine the timing of metamorphosis: Starvation-induced mechanism revisited. PLoS ONE, 11(7).

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