Luiza Bueno: PeerJ Award Winner at ICBR 2023


ICBR – the International Conference for Blattodea Research – aims to build an international community for those researchers focused on the Blattodea order of insects (cockroaches and termites). The conference took place between 3rd and 4th April 2023 in Münster Castle, Germany, and brought colleagues together to exchange discoveries and ideas, and to spark future collaborations. It also offered a great venue to help launch careers of students and early career scientists as Blattodea biologists – which the world needs. Young energetic minds, listening and learning and connecting with people – presenting recent results.

PeerJ recently spoke to Luiza Bueno, winner of the PeerJ Award for Best Student Talk at ICBR 2023, to hear more about her research.


Luiza Helena Bueno da Silva PhD candidate at the Federal University of ABC – UFABC, Brazil.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your research interests?

I have a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in Biological Sciences. During my undergraduate degree I studied the defensive and aggressive behavior of termites, and continued to specialize further in the same field of study for my master’s degree.

I am currently a PhD student in the Evolution and Diversity program at the Federal University of ABC (UFABC) in Brazil, and I am a guest student at the Department of Materials and Environment at BAM in Germany; where I am working on my thesis. The goal of my research is to understand the immune strategies of fungus-infected termites from both an individual and social perspective.

What first interested you in this field of research?

I am fascinated by the social characteristics of animals, and termites are a great model. I am fascinated by the ability of small insects like termites to build huge nests, as well as how they enact (relatively) large-scale impact and change to their environment. Although they are known for the property damage they cause, most termite species have been ecosystem engineers, as they can both chemically and physically change the composition of substrates by moving enormous amounts matter, building complex mounds and nests, constructing tunnels, and being important decomposers in tropical forests.

Can you briefly explain the research you presented at ICBR 2023?

In the research I presented at ICBR we analyzed the behavior of a Neotropical termite species Anoplotermes pacificus towards individuals infected with an entomopathogenic fungus commonly found in termite-associated soils. Strategies to care for sick individuals in the colony are imperative for the survival of the whole group. Our results indicated that the strategy of A. pacificus towards infected workers varied according to the stage of infection, where the more advanced the infection, the more destructive the disinfection behavior displayed towards it.

How will you continue to build on this research?

I will continue the research focusing on the individual immune responses of the termite A. pacificus to fungus infection. For this I am in the lab of Prof. Dr. Dino McMahon, where we are investigating the immune genes that termites express at different stages of infection. analyzing the transcriptome of the termites.

You may also like...