, Volume 94, Issue 1, pp 25–33 | Cite as

Inducible immune proteins in the dampwood termite Zootermopsis angusticollis

  • Rebeca B. RosengausEmail author
  • Tara Cornelisse
  • Katerina Guschanski
  • James F. A. Traniello
Original Article


Dampwood termites, Zootermopsis angusticollis (Isoptera: Termopsidae), mount an immune response to resist microbial infection. Here we report on results of a novel analysis that allowed us to electrophoretically assess changes in hemolymph proteins in the same individual before and after exposure to a pathogen. We demonstrate that contact with a sublethal concentration of the entomopathogenic fungus Metarhizium anisopliae (Deuteromycotina:Hypomycetes) induces the production of protective proteins in nymphs, pseudergates (false workers), and soldiers. Termites exposed to an immunizing dosage of fungal conidia consistently showed an enhancement of constitutive proteins (62–85 kDa) in the hemolymph as well as an induction of novel proteins (28–48 kDa) relative to preimmunization levels. No significant differences in protein banding patterns relative to baseline levels in control and naïve termites were observed. Incubating excised and eluted induced proteins produced by immunized pseudergates or immunized soldiers with conidia significantly reduced the germination of the fungus. The fungistatic effect of eluted proteins differed significantly among five colonies examined. Our results show that the upregulation of protective proteins in the hemolymph underscores the in vivo immune response we previously recorded in Z. angusticollis.


Isoptera Immunocompetence Ecological immunology Metarhizium anisopliae Social insects 



We thank the administration of the Mount Tamalpais State Park and the Palo Alto Foot Hill Park for permission to collect termite colonies. We appreciate Drs. R. St. Leger’s and D. Tolan’s advice on isoelectric gel and electroelution protocols and Dr. Carol Warner’s input on SDS-PAGE gels. Drs. Jen-Wei Lin and Kim McCall kindly loaned equipment and Dr. Mark Bulmer provided valuable comments on the manuscript. This research was supported by a grant from NSF (IBN-0116857) to JFA Traniello and RB Rosengaus, an REU NSF supplement and by an NSF CAREER Development grant (DEB-0447316) to RB Rosengaus. The present experiments comply with the current laws of the United States of America.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rebeca B. Rosengaus
    • 1
    Email author
  • Tara Cornelisse
    • 2
  • Katerina Guschanski
    • 1
  • James F. A. Traniello
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of BiologyNortheastern UniversityBostonUSA
  2. 2.Department of BiologyBoston UniversityBostonUSA

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