Tuesday, 28 October 2003

This presentation is part of : Display Presentations, Section Cb. Apiculture and Social Insects

Nematode-induced behavioral responses in the dampwood termite Zootermopsis angusticollis Hagen

Ariela Nurko1, Tali Cantor1, and Rebeca Rosengaus2. (1) Gann Academy High School, 333 Forest Street, Waltham, MA, (2) Northeastern University, Department of Biology, 134 Mugar Life Sciences Building, 360 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA

Little information exists on the pressures posed by entomopathogenic nematodes on termite colonies, and no information is available on the social adaptations that confer resistance to this kind of infection. Behavioral studies show that Z. angusticollis nymphs and soldiers exposed to the nematode Steinernema carpocapsae (mexicana) change significantly the frequency and duration of several behavioral acts relative to their baseline data. Moreover, the changes are dosage-dependent and two behaviors, “scratching” and “lifting anus” had never been observed in this host species. The behavioral repertoire of Z. angusticollis therefore, includes behaviors that seem effective in minimizing nematode invasion. “Scratching” involves using the hind and middle legs to vigorously scrape off the ventral abdominal segments of nematodes. “Raising anus” to an almost perpendicular position relative to the substrate, suggests termites are attempting to limit the invasion through the anus, a common route through which nematodes enter the host’s hemocoel.

Species 1: Isoptera Termopsidae Zootermopsis angusticollis (dampwood termite)
Species 2: Rhabditida Steinernematidae Steinernema carpocapsae (entomopathogenic nematode)
Keywords: behavior, host-parasite interaction

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