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Secondary plant products and food choice exemplified by the wood-feeding termite Schedorhinotermes lamanianus

Grako678 C2

From 01/2004 to 12/2007

Staff: Manfred Kaib, Konrad Dettner, Karlheinz Seifert, Dietrich v. Holst
Grant: GK 678/2 Graduate College 678: Ecological Significance of Natural Compounds and other Signals in Insects - from Structure to Function

Wood-feeding termites play an important role in tropical urban ecosystems as they destroy wooden constructions. To avoid preventive treatment of timber with persistent insecticides, research on termite-resistant timber has recently been intensified. The wood-feeding termite Schedorhinotermes lamanianus (Rhinotermitidae) clearly avoids timber of the tree species Margaritaria discoidea during foraging. Pilot studies suggest that this tree contains alkaloids, which in biotests act as feeding deterrent substances and which are sensed by neurons in the termites’ antennae. Aim of the PhD-project is to test secondary plant products of various tropical tree species for their feeding deterrent function and, in parallel, antennal neurons for their responsiveness. In addition to biotests methods developed for natural product chemistry and sensory physiology will be applied.

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