Claire Fuller, professor of biology at Murray State University in Murray, Kentucky, started studying termites after a colleague brought her a termite that had changed color from brown to white. She discovered the termite had been attacked by a parasite, which affected not only the insect’s color, but its behavior.
Professor Fuller’s interest in the termite is due to her interest in disease ecology, or the disease of organisms and what makes those organisms susceptible or resistant to disease. The termite is a particularly important insect because it plays a crucial role in degrading wood in the world’s rainforests. Without termites, the rainforests would renew more slowly, and negatively impact a majority of the species that live there.
Fuller’s BioMaPS Program has been focused on whether termites from different habitats are genetically able to resist some kinds of diseases. She traveled with two Murray State students to St. John last summer to collect termite samples and measure nest volumes. They are also looking at whether other environmental factors such as humidity and temperature impact the success of the termite nest.
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While termites are important ecologically in nature, they are extremely damaging to your home. Owners may not see signs of termites until infestations are full blown, and considerable damage has already occurred. To learn more about termite damage and control, please click here.Tags: Disease Ecology, Pest Control, Termite Control, Termites