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Insects 2019, 10(4), 87; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects10040087

Symbiotic Plant Biomass Decomposition in Fungus-Growing Termites

1
Section for Ecology and Evolution, Department of Biology, University of Copenhagen, Universitetsparken 15, 2100 Copenhagen East, Denmark
2
Department of Bacteriology, University of Wisconsin–Madison, Madison, WI 53706, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 1 February 2019 / Revised: 5 March 2019 / Accepted: 6 March 2019 / Published: 28 March 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecology of Termites)
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Abstract

Termites are among the most successful animal groups, accomplishing nutrient acquisition through long-term associations and enzyme provisioning from microbial symbionts. Fungus farming has evolved only once in a single termite sub-family: Macrotermitinae. This sub-family has become a dominant decomposer in the Old World; through enzymatic contributions from insects, fungi, and bacteria, managed in an intricate decomposition pathway, the termites obtain near-complete utilisation of essentially any plant substrate. Here we review recent insights into our understanding of the process of plant biomass decomposition in fungus-growing termites. To this end, we outline research avenues that we believe can help shed light on how evolution has shaped the optimisation of plant-biomass decomposition in this complex multipartite symbiosis. View Full-Text
Keywords: carbohydrate-active enzymes; Blattodea; Macrotermitinae; microbiota; social insects; Termitomyces carbohydrate-active enzymes; Blattodea; Macrotermitinae; microbiota; social insects; Termitomyces
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da Costa, R.R.; Hu, H.; Li, H.; Poulsen, M. Symbiotic Plant Biomass Decomposition in Fungus-Growing Termites. Insects 2019, 10, 87.

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