The gut microbiota of the wood-feeding termite Reticulitermes lucifugus (Isoptera; Rhinotermitidae)

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Termite gut is host to a complex microbial community consisting of prokaryotes, and in some cases flagellates, responsible for the degradation of lignocellulosic material. Here we report data concerning the analysis of the gut microbiota of Reticulitermes lucifugus (Rossi), a lower termite species that lives in underground environments and is widespread in Italy, where it causes damage to wood structures of historical and artistic monuments. A 16S rRNA gene clone library revealed that the R. lucifugus gut is colonized by members of five phyla in the domain Bacteria: Firmicutes (49 % of clones), Proteobacteria (24 %), Spirochaetes (14 %), the candidatus TG1 phylum (12 %), and Bacteroidetes (1 %). A collection of cellulolytic aerobic bacteria was isolated from the gut of R. lucifugus by enrichment cultures on different cellulose and lignocellulose substrates. Results showed that the largest amount of culturable cellulolytic bacteria of R. lucifugus belongs to Firmicutes in the genera Bacillus and Paenibacillus (67 %). These isolates are also able to grow on xylan and show the largest clear zone diameter in the Congo red test. Reticulitermes lucifugus hosts a diverse community of bacteria and could be considered an acceptable source of hydrolytic enzymes for biotechnological applications.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)253-260
Number of pages8
JournalAnnals of Microbiology
Publication statusPublished - 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

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