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Foraging Macrotermes natalensis Fungus-Growing Termites Avoid a Mycopathogen but Not an Entomopathogen

1
Section for Ecology and Evolution, Department of Biology, University of Copenhagen, 2100 Copenhagen East, Denmark
2
Natural History Museum of Denmark, University of Copenhagen, 2100 Copenhagen East, Denmark
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Insects 2019, 10(7), 185; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects10070185
Received: 20 May 2019 / Revised: 18 June 2019 / Accepted: 24 June 2019 / Published: 26 June 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biology of Social Insect Diseases)
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Abstract

Fungus-growing termites have to defend both themselves and their monoculture fungal cultivars from antagonistic microbes. One of the ways that pathogens can enter the termite colony is on the plant substrate that is collected by termite foragers. In order to understand whether foragers avoid substrate infected with antagonists, we offered sub-colonies of Macrotermes natalensis a choice between food exposed to either a mycopathogenic or an entomopathogenic fungus, and control food. Workers did not show any preference between entomopathogen-exposed and control substrate, but significantly avoided the mycopathogen-exposed substrate. This suggests that the behaviour of foraging workers is more strongly influenced by pathogens affecting their crop than those posing risks to the termite workers themselves. View Full-Text
Keywords: Beauveria; defence; social immunity; Termitomyces; Trichoderma Beauveria; defence; social immunity; Termitomyces; Trichoderma
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Bodawatta, K.H.; Poulsen, M.; Bos, N. Foraging Macrotermes natalensis Fungus-Growing Termites Avoid a Mycopathogen but Not an Entomopathogen. Insects 2019, 10, 185.

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