Tuesday, 28 October 2003

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

Detection of pathogen-induced proteins in the dampwood termite Zootermopsis angusticollis

Katerina Guschanski and Rebeca Rosengaus. Northeastern University, Department of Biology, 134 Mugar Life Sciences Building, 360 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA

The nesting, feeding and foraging ecology of Z. angusticollis places these social insects in the midst of a diverse, potentially pathogenic community. Living under such selective pressures should have favored adaptations to resist disease. Previous research has demonstrated that termites develop immunity that can be socially mediated. In order to study the social transmission of immunity, we have developed an electrophoretic technique that allows tracking changes in the protein banding patterns of individuals before and after exposure to fungal pathogens. We hypothesized that following fungal immunization, termites will mount a detectable humoral immune response. Male and female nymphs of Z. angusticollis underwent a pre-immunization bleeding followed by exposure to spores of the fungus Metarhizium anisopliae. Three day post-immunization the same individuals were bled for a second time. The protein banding patterns of hemolymph collected pre- and post-immunization were compared on SDS-PAGE gels. Our results indicate that immunized nymphs had consistent enhancement of constitutive proteins (62-85kDa) relative to the pre-immunization samples. Induction of novel proteins (28-48kDa) was often observed. Control nymphs showed no major differences in protein banding patterns. This technique will be used to corroborate the existence of social immunization among nestmates.

Species 1: Isoptera Termopsidae Zootermopsis angusticollis (dampwood termite)
Species 2: Deuteromycotina Hyphomycetes Metarhizium anisopliae (green muscardine fungus)
Keywords: immune response, infectious disease

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