Ecdysteroids and juvenile hormones of whiteflies, important insect vectors for plant viruses


Ecdysteroids and juvenile hormones (JHs) regulate many physiological events throughout the insect life cycle, including molting, metamorphosis, ecdysis, diapause, reproduction, and behavior. Fluctuation of whitefly ecdysteroid levels and the identity of the whitefly molting hormone (20-hydroxyecdysone) have only been reported within the last few years. An ecdysteroid commitment peak that is associated with the reprogramming of tissues for a metamorphic molt in many holometabolous and some hemimetabolous insect species was not observed in last nymphal instars of either the sweet potato whitefly, Bemisia tabaci (Biotype B), or the greenhouse whitefly, Trialeurodes vaporariorum. Ecdysteroids reach peak levels 1–2 days prior to the initiation of the nymphal-adult metamorphic molt. Adult eye and wing differentiation which signal the onset of this molt begin earlier in 4th instar T. vaporariorum (Stages 4 and 5, respectively) than in B. tabaci (Stage 6), and the premolt peak is 3–4 times greater in B. tabaci (∼400 fg/μg protein) than in T. vaporariorum (∼120 fg/μg protein). The JH of B. tabaci nymphs and eggs was found to be JH III, supporting the view that JHs I and II are, with rare exception, only present in lepidopteran insects. In B. tabaci eggs, JH levels were approximately 10 times greater on day 2/3 (0.44 fg/egg or 0.54 ng/g) than on day 5 (0.04 fg/egg or 0.054 ng/g) post-oviposition. Approximately, 1.4 fg/2nd–3rd instar nymph (0.36 ng/g) was detected. It is probable that the relatively high level of JH in day 2/3 eggs is associated with the differentiation of various whitefly tissues during embryonic development.

Document Type





bemisia tabaci, trialeurodes vaporariorum, molting, metamorphosis, staging histology

Publication Date


Journal Title

Journal of insect physiology