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Symbiotic microorganism diversity in comb and feces of fungus-growing termite

ZHANG Shuo1 LIN Zi-Jia1 XIAO Yuan-Xi1 LI Jing-Jing1 LI Zhi1 NI Jin-Feng1

(1.State Key Laboratory of Microbial Technology, Institute of Microbial Technology, Shandong University, Qingdao, Shandong, China 266237)

【Abstract】[Background] Fungus-growing termites are a kind of higher termites belonging to the Macrotermitinae that culture monofungus (Termitomyces spp.) in their nests. Fungus-growing termites form a three-dimensional symbiosis system with intestinal microorganisms and microorganisms in the fungus comb. [Objective] To analyze the microbial diversity of fungus combs and termite feces and compare with intestinal microorganisms of fungus-growing termites. [Methods] The bacterial 16S rRNA gene amplicon and fungal ITS rRNA were analyzed with the Illumina MiSeq high-throughput sequencing method. [Results] The number of filtered sequences and OTU numbers of bacteria and fungi in samples of fungus comb and feces was obtained. The number of bacterial OTUs in the five samples was in the range of 90–199, while that of the fungal OTUs was in the range of 10–58. The diversity of bacteria was significantly greater than that of fungi. The OTUs in bacteria and fungi in fecal samples were more than those in fungus comb samples. According to taxa classification, the dominant phylum in the fungus comb samples was Proteobacteria, with the relative abundance of over 82.4%, followed by Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes. The dominant bacteriaal phylum in fecal samples was Bacteroidetes, followed by Proteobacteria. The dominant bacteria belong to Alistipes and Dysgonomonas, which was consistent with the diversity of intestinal bacteria in fungus-growing termites. The dominant fungi in termite comb and fecal samples were mainly Basidiomycota and Ascomycota. The dominant fungi genus in fungus comb was Termitomyces, with the relative abundance of more than 51.83%. Xylaria was also identified in the comb. [Conclusion] This study provides a basis and reference for the future research on the symbiosis of fungus-growing termites with in vivo and in vitro microorganisms and the isolation and culture of microorganisms.

【Keywords】 Fungus-growing termites; Fungus comb; Feces; Bacterial and fungal diversity;


【Funds】 National Natural Science Foundation of China (31970119, 31272370)

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This Article


CN: 11-1996/Q

Vol 47, No. 10, Pages 3091-3101

October 2020


Article Outline


  • 1 Materials and methods
  • 2 Results and analysis
  • 3 Discussion and conclusions
  • References