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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2003 Oct;69(10):6007-17.

Phylogenetic diversity, abundance, and axial distribution of bacteria in the intestinal tract of two soil-feeding termites (Cubitermes spp.).

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  • 1Mikrobielle Okologie, Fachbereich Biologie, Universität Konstanz, 78457 Konstanz, Germany.

Abstract

The hindgut of soil-feeding termites is highly compartmentalized and characterized by pronounced axial dynamics of the intestinal pH and microbial processes such as hydrogen production, methanogenesis, and reductive acetogenesis. Nothing is known about the bacterial diversity and the abundance or axial distribution of the major phylogenetic groups in the different gut compartments. In this study, we showed that the variety of physicochemical conditions is reflected in the diversity of the microbial communities in the different gut compartments of two Cubitermes species (TERMITIDAE: Termitinae). 16S rRNA gene clones from the highly alkaline first proctodeal segment (P1) of Cubitermes orthognathus represented almost exclusively gram-positive bacteria with low G+C content (LGC bacteria). In the posterior gut segments, their proportion decreased progressively, and the clone libraries comprised a variety of phyla, including the Cytophaga-Flexibacter-Bacteroides group, various subgroups of Proteobacteria, and the spirochetes. Phylogenetic analysis revealed that many of the clones clustered with sequences from the guts of other termites, and some even formed clusters containing only clones from C. orthognathus. The abundance and axial distribution of major phylogenetic groups in the gut of Cubitermes ugandensis were determined by fluorescence in situ hybridization with group-specific oligonucleotide probes. While the results were generally in good agreement with those of the clonal analysis, direct counts with probes specific for the Planctomycetales revealed a severe underestimation of representatives of this phylum in the clone libraries. Results obtained with newly designed FISH probes directed against two clusters of LGC clones from C. orthognathus indicated that the clones were restricted to specific gut regions. A molecular fingerprinting analysis published in a companion paper (D. Schmitt-Wagner, M. W. Friedrich, B. Wagner, and A. Brune, Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 69:6018-6024, 2003) corroborated the presence of compartment-specific bacterial communities in the gut of different Cubitermes species.

PMID:
14532056
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC201194
Free PMC Article
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