A molecular survey of Australian and North American termite genera indicates that vertical inheritance is the primary force shaping termite gut microbiomes

Abdul Rahman, Nurdyana, Parks, Donovan H., Willner, Dana L., Engelbrektson, Anna L., Goffredi, Shana K., Warnecke, Falk, Scheffrahn, Rudolf H. and Hugenholtz, Philip (2015) A molecular survey of Australian and North American termite genera indicates that vertical inheritance is the primary force shaping termite gut microbiomes. Microbiome, 3 5: 1-16. doi:10.1186/s40168-015-0067-8


Author Abdul Rahman, Nurdyana
Parks, Donovan H.
Willner, Dana L.
Engelbrektson, Anna L.
Goffredi, Shana K.
Warnecke, Falk
Scheffrahn, Rudolf H.
Hugenholtz, Philip
Title A molecular survey of Australian and North American termite genera indicates that vertical inheritance is the primary force shaping termite gut microbiomes
Journal name Microbiome   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 2049-2618
Publication date 2015-02-25
Year available 2015
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1186/s40168-015-0067-8
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 3
Issue 5
Start page 1
End page 16
Total pages 16
Place of publication London, United Kingdom
Publisher BioMed Central
Collection year 2016
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Background

Termites and their microbial gut symbionts are major recyclers of lignocellulosic biomass. This important symbiosis is obligate but relatively open and more complex in comparison to other well-known insect symbioses such as the strict vertical transmission of Buchnera in aphids. The relative roles of vertical inheritance and environmental factors such as diet in shaping the termite gut microbiome are not well understood.

Results

The gut microbiomes of 66 specimens representing seven higher and nine lower termite genera collected in Australia and North America were profiled by small subunit (SSU) rRNA amplicon pyrosequencing. These represent the first reported culture-independent gut microbiome data for three higher termite genera: Tenuirostritermes, Drepanotermes, and Gnathamitermes; and two lower termite genera: Marginitermes and Porotermes. Consistent with previous studies, bacteria comprise the largest fraction of termite gut symbionts, of which 11 phylotypes (6 Treponema, 1 Desulfarculus-like, 1 Desulfovibrio, 1 Anaerovorax-like, 1 Sporobacter-like, and 1 Pirellula-like) were widespread occurring in ≥50% of collected specimens. Archaea are generally considered to comprise only a minority of the termite gut microbiota (<3%); however, archaeal relative abundance was substantially higher and variable in a number of specimens including Macrognathotermes, Coptotermes, Schedorhinotermes, Porotermes, and Mastotermes (representing up to 54% of amplicon reads). A ciliate related to Clevelandella was detected in low abundance in Gnathamitermes indicating that protists were either reacquired after protists loss in higher termites or persisted in low numbers across this transition. Phylogenetic analyses of the bacterial communities indicate that vertical inheritance is the primary force shaping termite gut microbiota. The effect of diet is secondary and appears to influence the relative abundance, but not membership, of the gut communities.

Conclusions

Vertical inheritance is the primary force shaping the termite gut microbiome indicating that species are successfully and faithfully passed from one generation to the next via trophallaxis or coprophagy. Changes in relative abundance can occur on shorter time scales and appear to be an adaptive mechanism for dietary fluctuations.
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Australian Centre for Ecogenomics
Official 2016 Collection
School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences
 
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Created: Fri, 10 Apr 2015, 09:17:28 EST by Mrs Louise Nimwegen on behalf of School of Chemistry & Molecular Biosciences