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Comparison of the euryarchaeal microbial community in guts and food-soil of the soil-feeding termite Cubitermes fungifaber across different soil types

Donovan, S.E., Purdy, K.J., Kane, M.D. and Eggleton, P.E. (2004) Comparison of the euryarchaeal microbial community in guts and food-soil of the soil-feeding termite Cubitermes fungifaber across different soil types. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 70 (7). pp. 3884-3892. ISSN 0099-2240

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1128/AEM.70.7.3884-3892.2004

Abstract/Summary

Termites are an important component of tropical soil communities and have a significant affect on the structure and nutrient content of soil. Digestion in termites is related to gut structure, gut physico-chemical conditions and gut symbiotic microbiota. Here we describe the use of 16S rRNA gene sequencing and Terminal-restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism (T-RFLP) analysis to examine methanogenic Archaea (MA) in the guts and food-soil of the soil-feeder Cubitermes fungifaber Sjostedt across a range of soil types. If they are strictly vertically inherited, then MA in guts should be the same in all individuals even if the soils differ across sites. In contrast, gut MA should reflect what is present in soil if populations are merely a reflection of what is ingested as the insects forage. We show clear differences between the euryarchaeal communities in termite guts and in food-soils from five different sites. Analysis of 16S rRNA gene clones indicated little overlap between the gut and soil communities. Gut clones were related to a termite-derived Methanomicrobiales cluster, to Methanobrevibacter and, surprisingly, to the haloalkaliphile Natronococcus. Soil clones clustered with Methanosarcina, Methanomicrococcus or Rice Cluster I. T-RFLP analysis indicated that the archaeal communities in the soil samples differed from site to site, whereas those in termite guts were similar between sites. There was some overlap between the gut and soil communities but these may represent transient populations in either guts or soil. Our data does not support the hypothesis that termite gut MA are derived from their food soil but also does not support a purely vertical transmission of gut microflora.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Biological Sciences
Interdisciplinary centres and themes > Soil Research Centre
ID Code:10470

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