Fungistatic Properties of Zootermopsis angusticollis Eggs

Abstract

The dampwood termite, Zootermopsis angusticollis, has evolved numerous adaptations to resist disease. We have hypothesized that one such adaptation includes transgenerational immunity, a phenomenon by which mother queens pass antimicrobial compounds onto their eggs that reduce their risk of infection. This study aims test whether egg contents exhibit fungistatic activity against an entomopathogenic fungus, Metarhizium anisopliae and the Gram-positive bacterium Arthrobacter spp. Eggs of na¥ve Z. angusticollis were sonicated in a phosphate saline buffer and their contents were then incubated with M. anisopliae conidia or tested in a zone of inhibition assay against Arthrobacter spp. Preliminary data indicate fungistatic activity in young Z. angusticollis eggs. Because these eggs are naturally oviposited on microbe rich environments, the incorporation of antibacterial and antifungal compounds by queens may represent an additional mechanism by which infection risks are reduced within a social insect colony.