Submitted to: Sociobiology
Publication Type: Peer reviewed journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/20/2002
Publication Date: 1/25/2003
Citation: Bland, J.M., Osbrink, W.L., Cornelius, M.L., Lax, A.R., Vigo, C. 2003. Detection of termite cuticular hydrocarbons by solid-phase microextraction (SPME). Sociobiology. 41:91-104. Interpretive Summary: Efforts are directed towards the eradication of the formosan subterranean termite. Chemicals used by the termite to identify enemies consist of cuticular hydrocarbons. To use these chemicals as a method of pest control, the variation in types and amounts of cuticular hydrocarbons must be assessed. This report shows the utilization of new methods to identify cuticular hydrocarbons from termites in a fashion that can not be obtained with the currently practiced method. Comparisons between species, colonies, and different members of the termite colony were observed. Scientist searching for methods to identify cuticular hydrocarbons or any other chemical message such as the pheromones used to produce trails or attract mates will be most interested in this work. Based on this work, many things can be accomplished, such as the development of new chemical deterrents, attractants to termite baits systems, alate attractants, or inhibitors of any of the chemical messages used by the termite.
Technical Abstract: Solid phase microextraction (SPME)-gas chromatography-mass spectrometry was used as an alternative method for the detection and identification of termite cuticular hydrocarbons. In comparison to the hexane extraction method, two SPME methods (headspace-SPME and direct contact- SPME) were used to show the variation in cuticular hydrocarbon profiles between Coptotermes formosanus Shiraki, Reticulitermes flavipes, and Kalotermes opproximatus Snyder. Differences between caste members (workers, soldiers, and alates) of C. formosanus are also shown. Few differences were found between sexes of alates or between C. formosanus colonies. The headspace-SPME method was also shown to identify other compounds of interest such as fatty acids. Using the direct contact- SPME method, termites were continuously studied over time to monitor chemical changes, showing a periodicity in the production of cuticular hydrocarbons with a two hour cycle.