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Title: Metagenomic analysis of the microbiota in the highly compartmented hindguts of six wood- or soil-feeding higher termites

Termites are important contributors to carbon and nitrogen cycling in tropical ecosystems. Higher termites digest lignocellulose in various stages of humification with the help of an entirely prokaryotic microbiota housed in their compartmented intestinal tract. Previous studies revealed fundamental differences in community structure between compartments, but the functional roles of individual lineages in symbiotic digestion are mostly unknown. Furthermore, we conducted a highly resolved analysis of the gut microbiota in six species of higher termites that feed on plant material at different levels of humification. Combining amplicon sequencing and metagenomics, we assessed similarities in community structure and functional potential between the major hindgut compartments (P1, P3, and P4). Cluster analysis of the relative abundances of orthologous gene clusters (COGs) revealed high similarities among woodand litter-feeding termites and strong differences to humivorous species. However, abundance estimates of bacterial phyla based on 16S rRNA genes greatly differed from those based on protein-coding genes. In conclusion, the community structure and functional potential of the microbiota in individual gut compartments are clearly driven by the digestive strategy of the host. The metagenomics libraries obtained in this study provide the basis for future studies that elucidate the fundamental differences in the symbiont-mediated breakdown of lignocellulosemore » and humus by termites of different feeding groups. The high proportion of uncultured bacterial lineages in all samples calls for a reference-independent approach for the correct taxonomic assignment of protein-coding genes.« less
 [1] ;  [2] ;  [2] ;  [3] ;  [2] ;  [4] ;  [5] ;  [3]
  1. Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology, Marburg (Germany); Colorado State Univ., Fort Collins, CO (United States)
  2. Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology, Marburg (Germany)
  3. Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology, Marburg (Germany); Philipps-Univ. Marburg, Marburg (Germany)
  4. Univ. of Florida, Davie, FL (United States)
  5. Univ. Paris 13, Villetaneuse (France); Sorbonne Univ., Bondy (France)
Publication Date:
Grant/Contract Number:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 3; Journal Issue: 1; Journal ID: ISSN 2049-2618
BioMed Central
Research Org:
University of California
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC)
Country of Publication:
United States
metagenomics; termites; hindgut; functional potential; gut microbiota; community structure
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