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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Presence of Naphthalene Detected in Sawdust Decayed by a Lignin-Degrading Fungus and it's Effect on the Feeding and Trail-Following Behavior of the Formosan Subterranean Termite (Isoptera:rhinotermitidae)

Authors
item CORNELIUS, MARY
item LLOYD, STEVEN
item LOVISA, MARY
item WILLIAMS, KELLEY

Submitted to: Sociobiology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: August 15, 2005
Publication Date: December 15, 2006
Citation: Cornelius, M.L., Lloyd, S.W., Lovisa, M.P., Williams, K.A. 2005. Presence of naphthalene detected in sawdust decayed by a lignin-degrading fungus and it's effect on the feeding and trail-following behavior of the formosan subterranean termite (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae). Sociobiology 46:397-408.

Interpretive Summary: This study examined chemical differences in redwood sawdust that had been decayed by the lignin-degrading basidiomycete, Marasmiellus troyanus (Murrill) Singer compared with redwood sawdust without fungus using solid phase microextraction (SPME). The presence of naphthalene was detected in sawdust decayed by the fungus, but not in the sawdust without fungus. Further investigation determined that concentrations of naphthalene in the headspace of decayed sawdust samples averaged 2.12 ppb. The effect of naphthalene on feeding behavior was determined by comparing consumption of naphthalene-treated and solvent-treated filter paper disks in paired choice tests. There were no significant differences in consumption of disks at concentrations of naphthalene ranging from 1 ppb to 1000 ppm. The effect of naphthalene on trail-following behavior was determined using glass y-tubes where one arm was treated with naphthalene and the other arm was treated with the solvent alone. Naphthalene did not elicit trail-following behavior of either soldiers or workers when trails were laid at concentrations ranging from 10 µg/µl to 0.01 µg/µl. The presence of low concentrations of naphthalene in carton nests of C. formosanus may be the result of its release as a byproduct of the process of lignin degradation.

Technical Abstract: This study examined chemical differences in redwood sawdust that had been decayed by the fungus, Marasmiellus troyanus (Murrill) Singer compared with redwood sawdust without fungus using solid phase microextraction (SPME). The presence of naphthalene was detected in sawdust decayed by the fungus, but not in the sawdust without fungus. The presence of naphthalene in decayed redwood sawdust was further investigated due to reports of its presence in carton nests of C. formosanus and to reports that naphthalene induces trail-following behavior in C. formosanus. This study evaluated the effect of naphthalene on the feeding and trail-following behavior of C. formosanus. Naphthalene does not appear to have an effect on either the feeding or trail-following behavior of the Formosan subterranean termite. This research will benefit both the pest control industry and the consumer by providing information on the foraging behavior of termites that may lead to the development of more effective baits for termite control.

Last Modified: 9/10/2014
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