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Biol Lett. 2007 Jun 22;3(3):336-9.

Hidden cellulases in termites: revision of an old hypothesis.

Author information

  • 1Center of Molecular Biosciences, University of the Ryukyus, Nishihara, Okinawa 903-0213, Japan. tokuda@comb.u-ryukyu.ac.jp

Abstract

The intestinal flagellates of termites produce cellulases that contribute to cellulose digestion of their host termites. However, 75% of all termite species do not harbour the cellulolytic flagellates; the endogenous cellulase secreted from the midgut tissue has been considered a sole source of cellulases in these termites. Using the xylophagous flagellate-free termites Nasutitermes takasagoensis and Nasutitermes walkeri, we successfully solubilized cellulases present in the hindgut pellets. Zymograms showed that the hindguts of these termites possessed several cellulases and contained up to 59% cellulase activity against crystalline cellulose when compared with the midgut. Antibiotic treatment administered to N. takasagoensis significantly reduced cellulase activity in the hindgut, suggesting that these cellulases were produced by symbiotic bacteria.

PMID:
17374589
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2464699
Free PMC Article
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