Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Texas Tech Developing Toxic Fire Ant Fungus

Date:
April 26, 2000
Source:
Texas Tech University
Summary:
There’s a fungus among us, and researchers at Texas Tech University are proving it to be fatal to fire ants around the state. Entomologists in the plant and soil science department say the deadly fungal bait has been extremely effective in killing fire ants.

LUBBOCK – There’s a fungus among us, and researchers at Texas Tech University are proving it to be fatal to fire ants around the state. Entomologists in the plant and soil science department say the deadly fungal bait has been extremely effective in killing fire ants in the Texarkana area as well as at other field test sites.

Texas Tech scientists began working on a biological control for fire ants 10 to 12 years ago, said Harlan Thorvilson, Ph.D., professor of entomology. The project isolated a common soil fungus that attacks only insects. To see if the fungus bait formulation was responsible for killing ants, Texas Tech scientists genetically altered the fungus to include an enzyme that indicated the presence of the fungus in dead ants.

“We then found a way to encapsulate the vegetative material in the fungus, called mycelia, into a pellet. We were able to dry down the pellet, or dehydrate it, so that they’re like Grape Nuts, then store it,” said Thorvilson. “The fungus reactivates by rehydrating it with moisture, it starts to grow nicely, starts to produce spores, and the spores are deadly to the fire ants.”

Thorvilson said Texas Tech’s main field research took place in the Texarkana area. Field trials also are set for independent sites in College Station, Gainsville, Fla., and Gulfport, Miss.

“The general idea of the fungus is to broadcast it over a field where there are many colonies. When the ants go to investigate for food, they find these pellets. They are attracted to the pellets, pick them up and deliver them to their colony. In the moist underground of the colony, the pellets rehydrate, produce spores and kill off the ants,” Thorvilson said.

According to research, the heaviest populations of fire ants in Texas are east of Interstate 35, with the longest established colonies appearing in the Houston area. Colonies closer to Lubbock and Texas Tech are located in the Midland, Abilene and San Angelo areas. Thorvilson believes the fire ants were probably brought to the West Texas area in nursery plant material.

Thorvilson said Texas Tech’s biological attack on fire ants through application of fungal bait, is just one weapon in the fight to eradicate them.

“As soon as we’re ready to bring on a commercial partner and market this product, it will be another tool in our pest management toolbox. Used in conjunction with insecticides, parasites and other means of control, we might be able to suppress them enough to alleviate some of the economic damage they cause,” Thorvilson said. He anticipates it will take an additional two years to ready the fungal bait for sale in stores.

Texas Tech, the largest research university system in West Texas, provides education and support to approximately 25,000 students. In addition, Texas Tech is the only university system in the state with a law school and a medical center on the same campus. The university’s research programs, in areas such as wind engineering, agriculture and environmental and human health, impact the lives of everyone in Texas.

-30-

CONTACT: Harlan Thorvilson, Ph.D., (806) 742-2764 or rthgt@ttacs.ttu.edu,Professor of entomology, Texas Tech University, department of plant and soil science.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Texas Tech University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Texas Tech University. "Texas Tech Developing Toxic Fire Ant Fungus." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 April 2000. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/04/000425173814.htm>.
Texas Tech University. (2000, April 26). Texas Tech Developing Toxic Fire Ant Fungus. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/04/000425173814.htm
Texas Tech University. "Texas Tech Developing Toxic Fire Ant Fungus." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/04/000425173814.htm (accessed July 22, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

San Diego Zoo Welcomes New, Rare Rhino Calf

San Diego Zoo Welcomes New, Rare Rhino Calf

Reuters - US Online Video (July 21, 2014) An endangered black rhino baby is the newest resident at the San Diego Zoo. Sasha Salama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism

Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism

AP (July 21, 2014) A rise in shark sightings along the shores of Chatham, Massachusetts is driving a surge of eager vacationers to the beach town looking to catch a glimpse of a great white. (July 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
$23.6 Billion Awarded To Widow In Smoking Lawsuit

$23.6 Billion Awarded To Widow In Smoking Lawsuit

Newsy (July 20, 2014) Cynthia Robinson claims R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company hid the health and addiction risks of its products, leading to the death of her husband in 1996. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
A Centuries' Old British Tradition Is Far from a Swan Song

A Centuries' Old British Tradition Is Far from a Swan Song

AFP (July 19, 2014) As if it weren't enough that the Queen is the Sovereign of the UK and 15 other Commonwealth realms, she is also the owner of all Britain's unmarked swans. Duration: 02:18 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins