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Symbiotic Plant Biomass Decomposition in Fungus-Growing Termites

Section for Ecology and Evolution, Department of Biology, University of Copenhagen, Universitetsparken 15, 2100 Copenhagen East, Denmark
Department of Bacteriology, University of Wisconsin–Madison, Madison, WI 53706, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Insects 2019, 10(4), 87;
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)
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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