By offering them a choice between normal wooden blocks and specially designed blocks made of wood and other materials, the researchers found that the termites always preferred the blocks containing the most wood – even though they could not touch or see the other materials.
The results are published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface (“Termites live in a material world: exploration of their ability to differentiate between food sources” by Dr RA Inta, Professor JCS Lai, Mr EW Fu and Dr T Evans (doi: 10.1098/rsif.2007.0223)).
Dr Ra Inta, from UNSW@ADFA [external link] and CSIRO Entomology, says the ability to differentiate between food sources is based on the vibrations of the food that the termites are eating, although the exact mechanism for this ability is yet to be explored.
“The researchers are designing further experiments to test termites’ assessment methods in an attempt to determine precisely what aspect of the vibrations termites are responding to in assessing food.”“Scientists have known for some time that termites are receptive to vibrations,” Dr Inta says. “But these results demonstrate that termites’ methods of food assessment are much more sophisticated that previously thought.
“When offered a choice between blocks of their normal wooden food, and specially engineered blocks made of wood and other materials, they could tell when there was another material attached and always chose the blocks that contained the most wood.”
The researchers are designing further experiments to test termites’ assessment methods in an attempt to determine precisely what aspect of the vibrations termites are responding to in assessing food.
“If we understand how they use vibrations to assess their food, we might be able to exploit this to manipulate their feeding habits, and address the very significant problem of termite damage in buildings and other structures,” Dr Inta says.
This research is a partnership between CSIRO and the University of New South Wales and is funded under the Australian Research Council Discovery project.
Ra Inta | EurekAlert!
Multi-institutional collaboration uncovers how molecular machines assemble
02.12.2016 | Salk Institute
Fertilized egg cells trigger and monitor loss of sperm’s epigenetic memory
02.12.2016 | IMBA - Institut für Molekulare Biotechnologie der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften GmbH
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy