The 2005 ESA Annual Meeting and Exhibition
December 15-18, 2005
Ft. Lauderdale, FL

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Saturday, December 17, 2005

Strength in numbers: benefits of group living for the control of nematode infection in the dampwood rermite, Zootermopsis angusticollis

Laurel Marcus, 06lmarcus@gannacademy.org1, Rachel Horenstein, 06rhorenstein@gannacademy.org1, and Rebeca Rosengaus, r.rosengaus@neu.edu2. (1) Gann Academy- The New Jewish High School of Greater Boston, 333 Forest Street, Waltham, MA, (2) Northeastern University, Department of Biology, 134 Mugar Life Sciences Building, 360 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA

Social insects live under important pathogenic and parasitic selection pressures. They nest in densely populated colonies and maintain homeothermic conditions within their nests which are conducive not only for the growth and development of the immature individuals, but also for the development of any potential parasites and pathogens. Here we show that grouped Zootermopsis angusticollis termites are less susceptible to infection by the entomoparasitic nematode Steinernema carpocapsae than isolated nestmates. Grouped termites exposed to the same per capita concentration of S. carpocapsae infective juveniles than isolated nestmates had significantly higher survival. Thus, group living in this insect species has intrinsic benefits when coping with nematode infection. Our data supports the hypothesis that immunocompetence in Z. angusticollis is socially mediated.

Species 1: Isoptera Termopsidae Zootermopsis angusticollis (dampwood termite)
Species 2: Rhabditida Steinernematidae Steinernema carpocapsae (soil nematodes)
Keywords: social behavior, parasitism

Poster (.pdf format, 632.0 kb)