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Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2009 Dec;73(12):2561-7. Epub 2009 Dec 7.

Termite-microbe symbiotic system and its efficient degradation of lignocellulose.

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Faculty of Fisheries, Nagasaki University, Japan.


Termites thrive in the tropics and play an important role in lignocellulose degradation. This ability depends mainly on intestine microbes in the gut, but most of them are so-called unculturable microbes, which can not be cultivated by traditional culture methods. The recent development of molecular approaches such as the PCR method has made it possible to access the enormous numbers of unculturable microbes in the gut of termites. This review explains our research on the ecological role of the termite, the termite-microbe symbiotic system, and the functions of lignocellulose degradation using various molecular methods. In the future, new technologies such as genomics should make it possible to analyze and utilize unculturable microbial resources in natural environments.

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