Utilizing rabbit immunoglobulin G protein for mark-capture studies on the desert subterranean termite, Heterotermes aureus (Snyder)

Paul B. Baker, James R. Hagler, Ruben Marchosky, Scott A. Machtley, Jessica M. Brown, Michael A. Riehle, David E. Bellamy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Mark-capture dispersal studies were conducted to investigate the feasibility of marking the southwestern desert subterranean termite, Heterotermes aureus (Snyder) with rabbit immunoglobulin G (IgG). In turn, short-range dispersal patterns of H. aureus were measured across a 20-m diameter desert landscape at three distinct field locations. Each location consisted of 51 termite feeding stations containing corrugated cardboard. The central feeding station (CFS) at each location was impregnated with rabbit IgG. A circular grid was then constructed around each CFS that consisted of 50 additional unmarked cardboard feeding stations strategically placed around the CFS at distances of 1.5, 2.0, 4.0, 7.0 or 10.0 m. Termites self-marked with rabbit IgG by feeding on the marked bait. The CFS and the 50 peripheral feeding stations were sampled for marked termites twice at each location 17-65 days after the marked bait was placed at the CFS to determine the spatial dispersal patterns of H. aureus within each research grid. Termites that self marked by feeding on rabbit IgG marked bait were detected by an anti-rabbit IgG enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Generally, the CFSs contained the highest frequency of marked termites with 28.0% of the individuals assayed from the CFSs containing rabbit IgG. Over the course of the study, 39 of the unmarked peripheral feeding stations contained at least one marked termite. Of the termites assayed from the peripheral stations (n = 2,955), 124 or 4.2% of the individuals contained the mark. The average distance traveled by the marked termites collected at the peripheral feeding stations was 5.7 ± 3.3 m from the CFSs. We also examined single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) from termites collected at each field site. Data indicated that each field site were genetically distinct and therefore non-related termites. We discuss the advantages and limitations of marking termites with rabbit IgG for dispersal studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)147-155
Number of pages9
JournalInsectes Sociaux
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2010


  • Dispersal
  • Protein marking
  • Rabbit IgG

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Insect Science


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