A Sugar Derivative Can Shut Down A Termite’s Immune System
Much like all insects, termites live within filthy conditions. Also like all insects, termites have strong immune systems that usually work well to prevent bacteria from causing diseases to develop. For those of you who hate termites, which is all of you, researchers may have developed a new way of killing them. Studies show that a derivative of plain old sugar causes a termite’s immune system to shut down. The sugar derivative known as GDL can make termites vulnerable to the bacteria and fungi that is located within their environments.
When an immune system becomes compromised, millions of different types of bacteria stand a much greater chance of infecting an organism. If a termite’s immune system fails microbes will attack more aggressively, eventually causing death, which is great news for homeowners. Termites cause thirty billion dollars in crop and structural damage around the world each year, and thanks to researchers, the worldwide economy may soon be spared a large amount of this annual cost. The GDL-based pest control method may one day introduce an entirely new, and effective type of termite control method. Pest control professionals and agricultural professionals use insecticides that disrupt a termite’s nervous system. These insecticides are often effective termite killers on their own, but GDL-based insecticides are extremely cheap as they are already used in food processing. With GDL-based forms of pest control, eradicating termites would not require homes to be tented, and this potential method would save vast amounts of money for pest control professionals, farmers, consumers and even certain sectors of the government that are concerned with pest control.
Termite immune systems contain proteins that are referred to as pattern recognition receptors. These proteins prevent bacteria, especially fungal bacteria from infecting termites. The shape of these proteins would allow GDL to inhibit the proper functioning of a termites immune system. The proteins and enzymes involved with a termites immune system would cease to function properly. One study has already shown that termites given GDL die within five days after being exposed to a certain fungal pathogen. Researchers are already applying the GDL molecule to certain types of wood polish and paint.
Do you think that GDL needs to be tested on other insects before it hits the market? Could GDL be harmful to beneficial forms of insect life?
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