Mark Bulmer

Associate Professor


Contact Information

Smith Hall, Room No. 251


University of Edinburgh (Scotland), Biochemistry, B.Sc. with Honors 1989.

Boston University, Biology, Ph.D. 2001.

University of Connecticut, Ecology and Evolution, Postdoctoral Training 2001-2002.

James Cook University (Australia), Tropical Biology, Postdoctoral Training 2002-2005.

Northeastern University, Biology, Postdoctoral Training 2005-2008.

Areas of Expertise

Molecular ecology and evolution of termites and their pathogens, competitors and symbionts


My research is primarily focused on termites and their fungal pathogens, symbionts and competitors. Termites live in large, crowded colonies, which can make them vulnerable to the rapid spread of disease. However, termites have a number of strategies for coping with pathogens including a front line defense of secreted antibiotics (small peptides and enzymes). We are also investigating whether elements of this defense system are important for competition with fungi that feed on shared food sources such as decaying wood.

Recent Publications


Denier, D. and M. S. Bulmer. 2015. Variation in subterranean termite susceptibility to fatal infections by local Metarhizium soil isolates. Insectes Soc. 62: 219-226

Rosengaus, R. B., K. F. Schultheis, A. Yalonetskaya, M. S. Bulmer, W. S. DuComb, R. W. Benson, J. P. Thottam and V. Godoy-Carter. 2014. Symbiont-derived β-1, 3-glucanases in a social insect: mutualism beyond nutrition. Front. Microbiol. 5: 607.

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.

(pdf files available at

Courses Taught

Principles of Genetics, Animal Behavior, Animal Social Evolution (graduate)