Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Antibiotic disrupts termite microflora, reducing fertility, longevity

Date:
July 19, 2011
Source:
American Society for Microbiology
Summary:
The microbial flora of the termite gut are necessary both for cellulose digestion and normal reproduction, and feeding the insects antibiotics can interfere in these processes, according to a new study.

The microbial flora of the termite gut are necessary both for cellulose digestion and normal reproduction, and feeding the insects antibiotics can interfere in these processes, according to a paper in the July issue of the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

"New and effective technologies for the control of social insect pests may be devised as a result of this work," says corresponding author Rebeca B. Rosengaus of Northeastern University, Boston, MA.

In this study, the researchers fed wood and the antibiotic rifampin to an experimental group of termite queens and kings, while feeding wood and water to a control group. The antibiotic treatment permanently reduced the diversity of the gut microbiota. Although antibiotic-fed queens and kings suffer higher mortality than their control counterparts, the authors do not believe the mortality was due to malnutrition or starvation. Surviving antibiotic-fed queens and kings had reduced rates of oviposition, which resulted in delayed colony growth, and reduced colony fitness. "These results point to the potential for using antibiotics to control termites and/or other insect pests, while reducing the need to attack them with toxic pesticides," says Rosengaus.

In the paper, the researchers speculate that rifampin reduces fertility and longevity by disrupting mutualistic bacterial partnerships within the hosts. "Given the long coevolutionary history between the gut symbionts and termites, it is likely that these social insects accrue additional benefits from their microbiota that are unrelated to cellulolytic activity," they write, noting that in other insects, gut symbionts are known to help in "…detoxification, mediation of disease resistance and immune function, production of volatile compounds that are coopted to function as aggregation or kin recognition pheromones and defensive secretions, and performance of atmospheric nitrogen fixation."

Besides the possibility that the research will lead to methods for curbing termites and other social insect pests, it may illuminate the co-evolutionary history of an ancient relationship, says Rosengaus. "These host-microbial interactions likely influence the evolution of multiple life history traits of hosts, including their longevity, behavior, reproductive biology, immunity, and perhaps even the evolution and maintenance of their sociality," she says.

The work might even have relevance to human physiology, says Rosengaus. Hundreds of species of microbe inhabit the human gut, and researchers are beginning to show how the compounds these microbes produce influence our physiology. "Understanding the possible impacts that these microbes have on the physiology of insects -- a more tractable animal model -- we can make inferences about the multiple roles that human gut microbes have on our physiology," says Rosengaus.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Society for Microbiology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. R. B. Rosengaus, C. N. Zecher, K. F. Schultheis, R. M. Brucker, S. R. Bordenstein. Disruption of the Termite Gut Microbiota and Its Prolonged Consequences for Fitness. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 2011; 77 (13): 4303 DOI: 10.1128/AEM.01886-10

Cite This Page:

American Society for Microbiology. "Antibiotic disrupts termite microflora, reducing fertility, longevity." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 July 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110718154913.htm>.
American Society for Microbiology. (2011, July 19). Antibiotic disrupts termite microflora, reducing fertility, longevity. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110718154913.htm
American Society for Microbiology. "Antibiotic disrupts termite microflora, reducing fertility, longevity." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110718154913.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

AP (July 27, 2014) A live-streaming webcam catches loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings emerging from a nest in the Florida Keys. (July 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Newsy (July 27, 2014) The satellite is back under ground control after a tense few days, but with a gecko sex experiment on board, the media just couldn't help themselves. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A national study conducted by the USDA Forest Service found that trees collectively save more than 850 lives on an annual basis. Video provided by Newsy
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