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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Use of Paecilomyces Spp. As Pathogenic Agents for Control of Termites

Authors
item WRIGHT, MAUREEN
item JACKSON, MARK
item Connick Jr, William

Submitted to: American Society for Microbiology Annual Meeting
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: February 22, 2003
Publication Date: May 1, 2004
Citation: Wright, M.S., Jackson, M.A., Connick Jr, W.J. 2006. USE OF PAECILOMYCES SPP. AS PATHOGENIC AGENTS FOR CONTROL OF TERMITES. American Society for Microbiology Annual Meeting. 111-115.

Technical Abstract: Subterranean termites (ST) are particularly destructive pests in tropical and temperate regions throughout the world. In the United States, ST are estimated to cost $1 billion annually in prevention and repair costs. ST infest and consume cellulose-based materials such as trees, wooden structures, plant roots and books. One ST species, the Formosan subterranean termite (FST), Coptotermes formosanus Shiraki, is becoming the predominant termite pest species in the United States. The desire to establish an Integrated Pest Management scheme to control ST, especially FST, has led to the investigation of biological control agents to complement chemical and physical control. This work addresses the use of fungal entomopathogens in the genus Paecilomyces to control ST. Pathogenesis and transmission of dessication-tolerant blastospores or conidia of P. fumosoroseus and P. javanicus among populations of both FST and native subterranean termites (NST) was demonstrated. A mortality rate of 100% was achieved in 4 days after exposure of both FST and NST to 2.1 x 108 blastospores/cm2 of P. fumosoroseus on filter paper. Exposure to 2.1 x 105 blastospores/cm2 on filter paper resulted in mortality rates of 95% and 56% at 21 days for FST and NST, respectively. To measure transmission, termite workers were exposed to conidia of one of the fungal strains and were incubated with an equal number of nestmates that were not directly exposed to the fungus. Mortality in excess of 50% indicated that termites were killed after receiving the pathogenic agent from other termites. Transmission of P. fumosoroseus among FST resulted in 80% mortality at 14 days after exposure. P. javanicus transmission resulted in 100% mortality at 13 days after exposure. In all experiments the mortality rate of termites exposed to blastospores or conidia exceeded that of unexposed control termites. These data show the potential of Paecilomyces sp. to infect and be spread within ST populations. Large numbers of infectious propagules can be easily and inexpensively produced for incorporation into formulations, enhancing the potential of these fungi as termite biological control agents.

Last Modified: 9/10/2014