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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Mortality and repellent effects of microbial pathogens on Coptotermes formosanus (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae)

Maureen S Wright1* and Mary L Cornelius2

Author Affiliations

1 United States Department of Agriculture, Southern Regional Research Center, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA

2 United States Department of Agriculture, Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, Beltsville, Maryland, USA

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BMC Microbiology 2012, 12:291  doi:10.1186/1471-2180-12-291

Published: 15 December 2012



Two entomopathogenic fungi, Isaria fumosorosea and Metarhizium anisopliae, and one bacterium, Bacillus thuringiensis, were tested for their ability to cause mortality of Formosan subterranean termites (FST), Coptotermes formosanus (Shiraki), after liquid exposure, and for their lack of propensity to repel FST.


The fungus Isaria fumosorosea at 108 spores/ml caused 72.5% mortality on day 7, significantly higher than the control and 106 spores/ml treatment. On day 14, the 106 and 108 concentrations caused 38.8% and 92.5% mortality, respectively, significantly higher than the control. On day 21, 82.5% and 100% of the termites were killed by the 106 and 108 treatments, respectively. I. fumosorosea did not repel termites at 106 nor 108 spores/g in sand, soil or sawdust. The fungus Metarhizium anisopliae at 108 spores/ml caused 57.5% mortality on day 7, 77.5% mortality on day 14 and 100% mortality on day 21.


On all three days the rate of mortality was significantly higher than that of the control and 106 spores/ml treatment with I. fumosorosea. Neither I. fumosorosea nor M. anisopliae caused repellency of FST in sand, soil or sawdust. The bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis did not cause significant mortality on days 7, 14 or 21. When termites were exposed to cells of B. thuringiensis in sawdust and when termites were exposed to a mixture of spores and cells in sand, a significantly higher number remained in the control tubes. Repellency was not seen with B. thuringiensis spores alone, nor with the above treatments in the other substrates.