My research is currently focused on the molecular arms race between termites and their fungal pathogens. Termites live in large, crowded colonies, which can make them vulnerable to the rapid spread of disease. This predicted vulnerability has led to the development of fungal pathogen strains as an alternative to chemical control of termite infestations. However, termites can destroy fungi with secreted antibiotics (small peptides and enzymes). A better understanding of the mechanism and evolution of this antifungal defense strategy is potentially of great value, not only because it may lead to more effective termite control methods but also because it can elucidate novel strategies that termites employ to counter the evolution of antibiotic resistance. This research includes tropical termites and their fungal pathogens in Panama and Australia as well as in and around Towson.
Bulmer, M. S., D. Denier, J. Velenovsky and C. Hamilton. 2012. A common antifungal defense strategy in Cryptocercus woodroaches and termites. Insectes Soc. 59: 469-478.
Hamilton, C. and M. S. Bulmer. 2012. Molecular antifungal defenses in subterranean termites: RNA interference reveals in vivo roles of termicins and GNBPs against a naturally encountered pathogen. Dev. Comp. Immunol. 36: 372-377.
Hamilton, C., F. Lay and M. S. Bulmer. 2012. Subterranean termite prophylactic secretions and external antifungal defenses. J. Insect Physiol. 57: 1259-1266.
Bulmer, M. S., F. Lay and C. Hamilton. 2010. Adaptive evolution in subterranean termite antifungal peptides. Insect Mol. Biol. 19:669-674.