Mark Bulmer

Associate Professor


Contact Info

Science Complex, Room 4150A


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 focused on both the evolution and mechanisms of termite immune defenses, with emphasis on defenses against fungal pathogens. 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 which depend on cooperative behaviors such as mutual grooming. 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

Bulmer, M. S., B. A. Franco and E. G. Fields. 2019. Subterranean termite social and alarm and hygienic responses to fungal pathogens. Insects 10 (8), 240.

Bulmer, M. S. 2019. Parasites and Insects: Aspects of Social Behavior. In: Choe, JC (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Animal Behavior, (2nd ed.). vol. 4: 784-789. Elsevier, Academic Press.

Martin, J. S. and M.S. Bulmer. 2018. A lab-based study of temperate forest termite impacts on two common wood-rot fungi. Environmental Entomology 47: 1388-1393.

Velenovsky J.F., J. Kalisch and M. S. Bulmer. 2016. Selective sweeps in Cryptocercus woodroach antifungal proteins. Genetica 144: 547-552.

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)