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Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity
Volume 2018, Article ID 5127251, 8 pages
Research Article

Long-Lived Termite Queens Exhibit High Cu/Zn-Superoxide Dismutase Activity

1Laboratory of Insect Ecology, Graduate School of Agriculture, Kyoto University, Kitashirakawa Oiwakecho, Kyoto 606-8502, Japan
2Department of Applied Bioresources Chemistry, The United Graduate School of Agriculture, Tottori University, 4-101 Koyamacho-minami, Tottori 680-8553, Japan
3Department of Biological Chemistry, Faculty of Agriculture, Yamaguchi University, 1677-1 Yoshida, Yamaguchi 753-8515, Japan
4Hokkaido Forest Research Station, Field Science Education and Research Center, Kyoto University, 553 Tawa Shibecha-cho Kawakami-gun, Hokkaido 088-2339, Japan
5Graduate School of Sciences and Technology for Innovation, Yamaguchi University, 1677-1 Yoshida, Yamaguchi 753-8515, Japan

Correspondence should be addressed to Yoshihito Iuchi;

Received 22 November 2017; Accepted 8 January 2018; Published 13 February 2018

Academic Editor: Janusz Gebicki

Copyright © 2018 Eisuke Tasaki et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


In most organisms, superoxide dismutases (SODs) are among the most effective antioxidant enzymes that regulate the reactive oxygen species (ROS) generated by oxidative energy metabolism. ROS are considered main proximate causes of aging. However, it remains unclear if SOD activities are associated with organismal longevity. The queens of eusocial insects, such as termites, ants, and honeybees, exhibit extraordinary longevity in comparison with the nonreproductive castes, such as workers. Therefore, the queens are promising candidates to study the underlying mechanisms of aging. Here, we found that queens have higher Cu/Zn-SOD activity than nonreproductive individuals of the termite Reticulitermes speratus. We identified three Cu/Zn-SOD sequences and one Mn-SOD sequence by RNA sequencing in R. speratus. Although the queens showed higher Cu/Zn-SOD activity than the nonreproductive individuals, there were no differences in their expression levels of the Cu/Zn-SOD genes RsSOD1 and RsSOD3A. Copper (Cu2+ and Cu+) is an essential cofactor for Cu/Zn-SOD enzyme activity, and the queens had higher concentrations of copper than the workers. These results suggest that the high Cu/Zn-SOD activity of termite queens is related to their high levels of the cofactor rather than gene expression. This study highlights that Cu/Zn-SOD activity contributes to extraordinary longevity in termites.