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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Effect of a Lignin-Degrading Fungus on the Feeding Preferences of the Formosan Subterranean Termite (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae) for Different Commercial Lumber

Authors
item Cornelius, Mary
item Bland, John
item Daigle, Donald
item Williams, Kelley
item Lovisa, Mary
item Connick Jr, William
item Lax, Alan

Submitted to: Journal of Economic Entomology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: November 24, 2003
Publication Date: February 28, 2004
Citation: Cornelius, M.L., Bland, J.M., Daigle, D.J., Williams, K.A., Lovisa, M.P., Connick Jr, W.J., Lax, A.R. 2004. Effect of a lignin-degrading fungus on the feeding preferences of the Formosan subterranean termite (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae) for different commercial lumber. Journal of Economic Entomology. 97(3):1025-1035.

Interpretive Summary: Because wood decay fungi alter the chemical composition of the wood, these fungi could potentially affect the feeding preferences of termites for different wood species. The objective of this study was to determine if the fungus, Marasmiellus troyanus influenced the feeding preferences of the Formosan subterranean termite for different wood species. The relative preference of termites for redwood increased when blocks were decayed by M. troyanus for 3 to 8 weeks. These results indicate that chemical modifications due to fungal decay affected termite feeding behavior for different wood species. Information on the feeding preferences of termites can be used to improve the acceptability of bait matrices for termite control. This research will benefit both the pest control industry and the consumer by providing information that may lead to the development of more effective baits for termite control.

Technical Abstract: The feeding preferences of the Formosan subterranean termite, Coptotermes formosanus Shiraki, for the following wood species: Alaska yellow cedar, yellow birch, northern red oak, redwood, and spruce were examined in order to determine whether the presence of the lignin-degrading basidiomycete, Marasmiellus troyanus (Murrill) Singer could alter the relative preference of termites for these wood species. In paired choice tests with fungus-inoculated sawdust versus control sawdust, termites showed a strong preference for the fungus-inoculated sawdust for all wood species tested, except for Alaska yellow cedar. In a multiple-choice test using sawdust without fungus, termites showed avery strong preference for red oak sawdust over the other three species. In a paired choice test using fungus-inoculated sawdust, termites showed a preference for redwood over red oak sawdust. In a feeding test using autoclaved wood blocks without fungal decay, there was no difference in termite consumption of birch, red oak, or redwood. The relative preference of termites for redwood increased when blocks were decayed by M. troyanus for 3 to 8 weeks. These results indicate that the fungus may break down allelochemicals in the redwood that act as deterrents to termites.

Last Modified: 7/31/2014
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