Letter | Published:

The Possible Existence of a Growth-regulating Substance in Termites

Nature volume 113, page 676 (10 May 1924) | Download Citation



A LARGE number of insects of various orders which inhabit the nests of termites, and feed either on them or their secretions, exhibit physogastry, i.e. enormous over-development of the abdomen, similar to that found in the queen termites. So far as I can gather, this condition is rare or absent in myrmecophilous insects, although most of the environmental conditions are very similar in ant and termite nests. It seems possible that the guests of the termites have been affected by a growth-regulating substance produced by their hosts, analogous to those formed in the gonads and certain ductless glands of vertebrates.

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  1. Biochemical Laboratory, Tennis Court Road, Cambridge.

    • J. B. S. HALDANE


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