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Resistance of the termite, Coptotermes formosanus Shiraki to Metarhizium anisopliae due to grooming

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Termites, Coptotermes formosanus, reared individually, were highly susceptible to the entomopathogenic fungus, Metarhizium anisopliae, while termites reared in␣groups were highly resistant. When reared in groups, the termites treated with M.␣anisopliae conidia on the body surface were groomed by their nestmates and more than 80% of the conidia were removed from the cuticle within 3 h. However, there was not a significant reduction in the numbers of conidia on the body surfaces of termites reared individually. For the termites maintained in groups, conidia were found in foreguts, midguts and hindguts, but very few conidia were detected in the guts of termites reared individually. Conidia in the alimentary tracts did not germinate, but some of were alive. As a result, it seems that the removal of foreign bodies, such as fungal conidia, from the␣cuticle is one function of termite mutual grooming behavior and that conidia removed from the cuticle are eliminated through alimentary tracts. This study indicates that mutual grooming behavior is very effective in protecting these termites from M.␣anisopliae infection.

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We thank the editor of BioControl and two anonymous reviewers for guidance and comments on the manuscript, especially about statistical analysis.

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Correspondence to S. Shimizu.

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Yanagawa, A., Shimizu, S. Resistance of the termite, Coptotermes formosanus Shiraki to Metarhizium anisopliae due to grooming. Biocontrol 52, 75–85 (2007).

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