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Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2010;74(6):1145-51. Epub 2010 Jun 7.

Diversity and genomes of uncultured microbial symbionts in the termite gut.

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1
Department of Biological Sciences, Graduate School of Bioscience and Biotechnology, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Tokyo, Japan. yhongo@bio.titech.ac.jp

Abstract

Termites play a key role in the global carbon cycle as decomposers. Their ability to thrive solely on dead plant matter is chiefly attributable to the activities of gut microbes, which comprise protists, bacteria, and archaea. Although the majority of the gut microbes are as yet unculturable, molecular analyses have gradually been revealing their diversity and symbiotic mechanisms. Culture-independent studies indicate that a single termite species harbors several hundred species of gut microbes unique to termites, and that the microbiota is consistent within a host termite species. To elucidate the functions of these unculturable symbionts, environmental genomics has recently been applied. Particularly, single-species-targeting metagenomics has provided a breakthrough in the understanding of symbiotic roles, such as the nitrogen fixation, of uncultured, individual microbial species. A combination of single-species-targeting metagenomics, conventional metagenomics, and metatranscriptomics should be a powerful tool to dissect this complex, multi-layered symbiotic system.

PMID:
20530908
DOI:
10.1271/bbb.100094
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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