A Novel Approach to Managing Invasive Termite Species Using Genetically Engineered Bacteria
Final rept. 13 Mar 2006-30 Sep 2007
LOUISIANA STATE UNIV BATON ROUGE AGRICULTURAL CENTER
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The hind gut of the Fonnosan subterranean tennite FST is a refuge for an array of protozoa and bacteria that fulfill important functions in the survival of their hosts. Due to their importance for FST survival these symbionts are excellent tools or targets for the control of FST. Lytic peptides were tested as protozoicides. Lytic peptides were shown to kill the tennite symbiotic protozoa and this defaunation was associated with the subsequent death of tennites. A prototype delivery system was developed using the yeast Kluyveromyces lactis and the lytic peptides Hecate and Melittin. Studies showed defaunation of tennite workers when fed with lytic peptide expressing yeast. Conditions to genetically engineer tennite-specific bacteria were investigated and the enzyme profile of the tennite gut was determined. These studies are crucial for development of a bacterial shuttle to produce toxins that are activated by enzymatic cleavage in the tennite gut and with further development, the system could be an environmentally friendly, cost effective alternative to chemical baiting systems presently used to control tennites.