Murray State University

Poster Title

Control of Termites by the Fungal Exposure

Presenter Information

Todd Walker, Murray State University

Institution

Murray State University

Abstract

Termites are an important structural pest in North America and worldwide. They are also highly important in recycling of woody debris in natural habitats to make nutrients available for plants. Because of these attributes, the studies of pathogens that affect termites are of great interest to ecologists and pest managers. We have discovered a novel fungus associated with corpses of Caribbean termites. We are testing this fungus to determine whether it is a pathogen. We hypothesized that this new fungus will affect survivorship of individual termites. To test this hypothesis, we exposed local Reticulitermes flavipes 4 groups of termites to a control (5% Tween 80 solution) or one of 3 fungal spore concentrations: 103 cells/mL, 105 cells/mL, or 107 cells/mL. Fungal spores were dissolved in Tween 80 (5%). The termites were observed till their death and plated on fungal growth medium to assure that the exposed termites were infected by our exposed fungus. We expect that the termite's death rate will increase with exposure to the concentrated fungus. These results could lead to new methods of termite control. In addition, the novel fungus will allow us to conduct controlled experiments on the affect of termite pathogens on their contribution to forest ecology.

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Control of Termites by the Fungal Exposure

Termites are an important structural pest in North America and worldwide. They are also highly important in recycling of woody debris in natural habitats to make nutrients available for plants. Because of these attributes, the studies of pathogens that affect termites are of great interest to ecologists and pest managers. We have discovered a novel fungus associated with corpses of Caribbean termites. We are testing this fungus to determine whether it is a pathogen. We hypothesized that this new fungus will affect survivorship of individual termites. To test this hypothesis, we exposed local Reticulitermes flavipes 4 groups of termites to a control (5% Tween 80 solution) or one of 3 fungal spore concentrations: 103 cells/mL, 105 cells/mL, or 107 cells/mL. Fungal spores were dissolved in Tween 80 (5%). The termites were observed till their death and plated on fungal growth medium to assure that the exposed termites were infected by our exposed fungus. We expect that the termite's death rate will increase with exposure to the concentrated fungus. These results could lead to new methods of termite control. In addition, the novel fungus will allow us to conduct controlled experiments on the affect of termite pathogens on their contribution to forest ecology.