The Entomopathogenic Fungus Aspergillus sclerotiorum as a Potential Biocontrol Agent of Western Subterranean Termites (Reticulitermes hesperus)

T. S. Laird, S. M. Richart

Author address: 

Azusa Pacific Univ., Azusa, CA


Termites have an important ecological role in regards to nutrient cycling and soil quality. However, termites, especially subterranean termites, are pests that cause billions of dollars in structural damage worldwide. Methods of termite control typically involve the use of hazardous pesticides. However, alternative methods exist, including the use of entomopathogenic fungi. Our previous work showed that Aspergillus sclerotiorum was pathogenic to western drywood and western subterranean termites. This study establishes that in Petri dish bioassays, spores of A. sclerotiorum were able to be transmitted between exposed and unexposed subterranean termites (Reticulitermes hesperus) which affected termite survivability. With 50%, 27%, and 10% of termites initially exposed to spores, survivability was reduced by 80%, 71%, and 35% respectively compared to the control. Further experimentation was conducted in conical tubes filled with wet sand, whereby only 10% of termites were exposed to fungal spores. In this model, however, which better mimics the trap and treat field application of fungus, there was only 16% reduction in survivability compared to the control.. This suggests that A. sclerotiorum may not be an ideal biocontrol agent for use against western subterranean termites in pest control scenarios, but still has potential as a model for understanding insect host-pathogen interactions.

abstract No: 


Full conference title: 

ASM Microbe 2016
    • ASM microbe 1st (2016)