The influence of entomopathogenic fungi from forest and urban landscapes on founding pairs of Reticulitermes flavipes (Blattodea: Rhinotermitidae)

Monday, November 17, 2014: 10:00 AM
B117-119 (Oregon Convention Center)
Tamra Reall Lincoln , Division of Plant Sciences, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO
Richard Houseman , Division of Plant Sciences, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO
Termites consume and break down cellulose as their primary source of nutrition. In natural forest ecosystems, termites break down woody debris and thus assist in the nutrient cycling of organic carbon and nitrogen. However, infestations in man-made structures have given termites a high priority in pest management. Traditional methods to prevent or control termite infestations are expensive, toxic chemical treatments. Meanwhile, biological control of termites has been attempted using entomopathogenic fungi, such as Beauveria and Metarhizium. Previous research focused on exploiting behaviors of these eusocial insects by exposing workers to fungal spores with the expectation that the virulent pathogens will be passed throughout the colony. However, due to many defensive behaviors, physiological responses, and the sheer number of individuals in a colony, entomopathogenic fungi have yet to successfully control termites. Our research focuses on a different life stage of subterranean termite colony development—recently emerged primary reproductives. In this colony stage, there are only two termites, the potential king and queen of a future colony if they succeed in their establishment. Because most termite colonies affecting newer homes in Missouri are started by primary reproductives, control of imagoes by preventing establishment may be an important method of urban termite control. This presentation looks at the survival and sublethal effects of fungal exposure on newly emerged imago termites. Imagoes were paired and exposed to Metarhizium and Beauveria spore concentrations, from forest and urban habitats, and then monitored for survival and sublethal effects.