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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Changes in the Ratios of Four Cuticular Hydrocarbons in Formosan Subterranean Termite Workers (Coptotermes Formosanus Shiraki) Due to Diet

item Rojas, Maria
item Werle, Christopher
item Cottrell, Nathan
item Morales Ramos, Juan

Submitted to: Sociobiology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: June 20, 2005
Publication Date: June 20, 2005
Citation: Rojas, M.G., Werle, C.T., Cottrell, N.L., Morales Ramos, J.A. 2005. Changes in the ratios of four cuticular hydrocarbons in formosan subterranean termite workers (coptotermes formosanus shiraki) due to diet. Sociobiology 46:131-140.

Interpretive Summary: The Formosan subterranean termite is an exotic pest to the US. It causes millions of dollars annually to wooden construction including living trees. Its adaptability to different food sources and antagonistic behavior is a major subject of study. One of the parameters that have proven to be useful is the identification and quantification of cuticular fatty acids. Termite worker samples were taken from different locations transferred to a standardized diet consisted of pine wood. Samples were taken at different times and analyzed using gas chromatography. The data indicated the presence of 4 fatty acids which ratios changed according to the diet. This information is relevant since add more information to the understanding of inter-colony behavior in Formosan termite.

Technical Abstract: Colonies of Coptotermes formosanus Shiraki were located and collected from eight sites in Mississippi and Louisiana from January through July 2004 using two different collection methods. Quantitative and qualitative assessments were made of the cuticular hydrocarbons extracted from samples of these termites as they were collected from the field and again after being established as lab colonies using GC/MS. The most abundant fatty acid detected was oleic, followed by stearic, palmitic, and palmitoleic acids. Results of this analysis indicate that diet contributes to variability in the ratios of fatty acids in termite workers, and thus may affect recognition and agonistic behavior between termites.

Last Modified: 4/22/2015
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