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28 April 2021 Alteration of Termite Locomotion and Allogrooming in Response to Infection by Pathogenic Fungi
Ali Hassan, Qiuying Huang, Nasir Mehmood, Huan Xu, Wei Zhou, Yongyong Gao
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Termites, being vulnerable to parasitic or pathogenic infections due to large number of individuals living together in colonies, have evolved various behavioral and physiological tactics to resist the infections by those pathogens. Locomotion can help termites collect information on parasites and accordingly exhibit hygienic behaviors. Termites inevitably encounter entomopathogenic fungi during nesting and foraging. However, how these fungal pathogens influence locomotion of termites and how hygienic behavior benefits their survival remains unknown. Here, we examined locomotion alteration of the termite Reticulitermes chinensis (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae) after infections with different concentrations of the entomopathogenic fungus Metarhizium anisopliae (Hypocreales: Clavicipitaceae). When R. chinensis was isolated, the low concentration (5 × 103 conidia/ml) significantly increased termite locomotion after 6, 12, and 24 h compared with control. However, the high concentrations (5 × 107, 5 × 109 conidia/ml) significantly decreased termite locomotion after 48 h, and termite survival was also significantly lower at 5 × 107 and 5 × 109 conidia/ml compared with the low concentrations and the control. When R. chinensis was in group, however, the locomotion significantly increased 24 h after exposure to 5 × 103 and 5 × 109 conidia/ml but was normalized after 48 h of exposure compared with the control. Allogrooming was significantly higher at 5 × 103 and 5 × 109 conidia/ml compared with the control. The fungal infection did not result in significantly higher mortality of the group termites probably owing to their allogrooming. These findings enhance our understanding on how a termite species copes with biotic stress (i.e., fungal infections) via adaptive behaviors.

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© The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Entomological Society of America. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail:
Ali Hassan, Qiuying Huang, Nasir Mehmood, Huan Xu, Wei Zhou, and Yongyong Gao "Alteration of Termite Locomotion and Allogrooming in Response to Infection by Pathogenic Fungi," Journal of Economic Entomology 114(3), 1256-1263, (28 April 2021).
Received: 29 December 2020; Accepted: 22 March 2021; Published: 28 April 2021

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