Lower termites that feed on wood have symbiotic microbes in their hindguts. Higher termites such as Nasitutermes sequenced by the DOE JGI don’t have these symbionts. While higher termites make up the majority of termite species and have prokaryotic microbiota in their guts, for species other than wood-feeders, the roles of these microbes in breaking down lignocellulose is unclear. The proposal calls for sequencing samples from wood-feeding (Nasitutermes), soil-feeding (Cubitermes) and humus-feeding (Amitermes) termites. Soil- and humus-feeding termites play roles in the carbon and nitrogen cycles. In savannahs, as much as 20 percent of the carbon mineralized is directly connected to termite activities.
PI: Andreas Brune, MPI-Marburg, Germany