Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Hey, that termite is shooting at me!

One of my work projects involves monoterpene metabolism by goats.  Don't ask, and anyway, that's not the point.  The point is, I was using Wikipedia to get a handle on some terminology and I ran across this: "Terpenes are used by termites of the Nasutitermitinae family to attack enemy insects, through the use of a specialized mechanism called a fontanellar gun."

Completely distracted from the task at hand, I went to the source material, and it says:  "Tenuirostritemes is a small genus of Neotropical termites with two species ranging northward into... southwestern Texas... The major specialization within the subfamily has involved... development of a small projection on the front of the head into a long, attenuated snout or nasus.  The frontal gland... elaborates a defensive secretion which can be forcibly ejected through the frontal pore at the tip of the nasus... This fontaneller* gun represents the apex of sophistication among the varied chemical defense mechanisms of the termites."

So, it's true:  In Texas, everyone has a gun.

And (at least in 1974) it was considered the apex of sophistication among... defense mechanisms.  :-)

I have to get back to work now.

*For the vocabularily-challenged, "fontanellar" is an adjective meaning located on the top of the head.  Yep, I looked it up.


  1. Ok, the termine thing, that is just cool!!

    Whole blood vs. plasma as the medium for GC analysis of monoterpenes in goats?

  2. Posted for misbeHaven in respons eto Brigid;

    "Infrared analysis of fecal samples to get consumption rates, but my part of the
    project is liver biopsies and RT-qPCR for mRNA expression of drug metabolism genes."

    I have no idea what I just pasted in but I suspect you two do.