ResearchPad - termites https://www.researchpad.co Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![CDATA[Single-cell amplicon sequencing reveals community structures and transmission trends of protist-associated bacteria in a termite host]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_14746 The hindgut protists of wood-feeding termites are usually colonized by prokaryotic symbionts. Many of the hurdles that have prevented a better understanding of these symbionts arise from variation among protist and termite host species and the inability to maintain prominent community members in culture. These issues have made it difficult to study the fidelity, acquisition, and differences in colonization of protists by bacterial symbionts. In this study, we use high throughput amplicon sequencing of the V4 region of 16S rRNA genes to determine the composition of bacterial communities associated with single protist cells of six protist species, from the genera Pyrsonympha, Dinenympha, and Trichonympha that are present in the hindgut of the termite Reticulitermes flavipes. By analyzing amplicon sequence variants (ASVs), the diversity and distribution of protist-associated bacteria was compared within and across these six different protist species. ASV analysis showed that, in general, each protist genus associated with a distinct community of bacterial symbionts which were conserved across different termite colonies. However, some ASVs corresponding to ectosymbionts (Spirochaetes) were shared between different Dinenympha species and to a lesser extent with Pyrsonympha and Trichonympha hosts. This suggested that certain bacterial symbionts may be cosmopolitan to some degree and perhaps acquired by horizontal transmission. Using a fluorescence-based cell assay, we could observe the horizontal acquisition of surface-bound bacteria. This acquisition was shown to be time-dependent, involve active processes, and was non-random with respect to binding locations on some protists.

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<![CDATA[Long live the queen, the king and the commoner? Transcript expression differences between old and young in the termite Cryptotermes secundus]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c6dc99ad5eed0c484529eb1

Social insects provide promising new avenues for aging research. Within a colony, individuals that share the same genetic background can differ in lifespan by up to two orders of magnitude. Reproducing queens (and in termites also kings) can live for more than 20 years, extraordinary lifespans for insects. We studied aging in a termite species, Cryptotermes secundus, which lives in less socially complex societies with a few hundred colony members. Reproductives develop from workers which are totipotent immatures. Comparing transcriptomes of young and old individuals, we found evidence for aging in reproductives that was especially associated with DNA and protein damage and the activity of transposable elements. By contrast, workers seemed to be better protected against aging. Thus our results differed from those obtained for social insects that live in more complex societies. Yet, they are in agreement with lifespan estimates for the study species. Our data are also in line with expectations from evolutionary theory. For individuals that are able to reproduce, it predicts that aging should only start after reaching maturity. As C. secundus workers are immatures with full reproductive options we expect them to invest into anti-aging processes. Our study illustrates that the degree of aging can differ between social insects and that it may be associated with caste-specific opportunities for reproduction.

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<![CDATA[Cryptic, Sympatric Diversity in Tegu Lizards of the Tupinambis teguixin Group (Squamata, Sauria, Teiidae) and the Description of Three New Species]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989dadbab0ee8fa60bb9ce7

Tegus of the genera Tupinambis and Salvator are the largest Neotropical lizards and the most exploited clade of Neotropical reptiles. For three decades more than 34 million tegu skins were in trade, about 1.02 million per year. The genus Tupinambis is distributed in South America east of the Andes, and currently contains four recognized species, three of which are found only in Brazil. However, the type species of the genus, T. teguixin, is known from Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guyana, Guyana, Peru, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and Venezuela (including the Isla de Margarita). Here we present molecular and morphological evidence that this species is genetically divergent across its range and identify four distinct clades some of which are sympatric. The occurrence of cryptic sympatric species undoubtedly exacerbated the nomenclatural problems of the past. We discuss the species supported by molecular and morphological evidence and increase the number of species in the genus Tupinambis to seven. The four members of the T. teguixin group continue to be confused with Salvator merianae, despite having a distinctly different morphology and reproductive mode. All members of the genus Tupinambis are CITES Appendix II. Yet, they continue to be heavily exploited, under studied, and confused in the minds of the public, conservationists, and scientists.

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<![CDATA[Lévy Flights and Self-Similar Exploratory Behaviour of Termite Workers: Beyond Model Fitting]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989dabeab0ee8fa60bafc6a

Animal movements have been related to optimal foraging strategies where self-similar trajectories are central. Most of the experimental studies done so far have focused mainly on fitting statistical models to data in order to test for movement patterns described by power-laws. Here we show by analyzing over half a million movement displacements that isolated termite workers actually exhibit a range of very interesting dynamical properties –including Lévy flights– in their exploratory behaviour. Going beyond the current trend of statistical model fitting alone, our study analyses anomalous diffusion and structure functions to estimate values of the scaling exponents describing displacement statistics. We evince the fractal nature of the movement patterns and show how the scaling exponents describing termite space exploration intriguingly comply with mathematical relations found in the physics of transport phenomena. By doing this, we rescue a rich variety of physical and biological phenomenology that can be potentially important and meaningful for the study of complex animal behavior and, in particular, for the study of how patterns of exploratory behaviour of individual social insects may impact not only their feeding demands but also nestmate encounter patterns and, hence, their dynamics at the social scale.

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<![CDATA[Caste-, sex-, and age-dependent expression of immune-related genes in a Japanese subterranean termite, Reticulitermes speratus]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db53ab0ee8fa60bdcc65

Insects protect themselves from microbial infections through innate immune responses, including pathogen recognition, phagocytosis, the activation of proteolytic cascades, and the synthesis of antimicrobial peptides. Termites, eusocial insects inhabiting microbe-rich wood, live in closely-related family groups that are susceptible to shared pathogen infections. To resist pathogenic infection, termite families have evolved diverse immune adaptations at both individual and societal levels, and a strategy of trade-offs between reproduction and immunity has been suggested. Although termite immune-inducible genes have been identified, few studies have investigated the differential expression of these genes between reproductive and neuter castes, and between sexes in each caste. In this study, we compared the expression levels of immune-related genes among castes, sexes, and ages in a Japanese subterranean termite, Reticulitermes speratus. Using RNA-seq, we found 197 immune-related genes, including 40 pattern recognition proteins, 97 signalling proteins, 60 effectors. Among these genes, 174 showed differential expression among castes. Comparing expression levels between males and females in each caste, we found sexually dimorphic expression of immune-related genes not only in reproductive castes, but also in neuter castes. Moreover, we identified age-related differential expression of 162 genes in male and/or female reproductives. In addition, although R. speratus is known to use the antibacterial peptide C-type lysozyme as an egg recognition pheromone, we determined that R. speratus has not only C-type, but also P-type and I-type lysozymes, as well as other termite species. Our transcriptomic analyses revealed immune response plasticity among all castes, and sex-biased expression of immune genes even in neuter castes, suggesting a sexual division of labor in the immune system of R. speratus. This study heightens the understanding of the evolution of antimicrobial strategies in eusocial insects, and of sexual roles in insect societies as a whole.

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<![CDATA[The effect of remnant forest on insect successional response in tropical fire-impacted peatland: A bi-taxa comparison]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db50ab0ee8fa60bdc0b8

Fire has become a common feature in tropical drained peatlands, and it may have detrimental impacts on the overall biodiversity of the forest ecosystem. We investigated the effect of fire on termite and ant assemblages and the importance of remnant forest in restoring species diversity in fire-impacted tropical peat swamp forests. The species loss of both termites and ants was as high as 50% in some fire-impacted peats compared to remnant forests, but in most cases the species richness for termites and ants was statistically equal along the land uses surveyed. However, a pronounced difference in functional group composition of termites was detected. In particular, sites close to remnant forests contained two additional termite feeding groups so that they shared a similar composition structure with remnant forests but were significantly different from sites distant from remnant forests. In general, ants were resilient to fire, and the similarity index showed a high degree of similarity among ant communities in all land uses surveyed. The Shannon diversity index for termites and ants decreased with increasing distance from the remnant forests and level of ecological degradation. Peat vegetation variables and ecological degradation were important in shaping termite and ant communities in the tropical peatlands, but their relative importance was not significant in fire-impacted peats regardless of distance from the remnant forests. This study highlights the importance of remnant forests as a biodiversity repository and natural buffer that can enhance species diversity and recolonization of forest-adapted species.

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<![CDATA[Gut Bacterial Community of the Xylophagous Cockroaches Cryptocercus punctulatus and Parasphaeria boleiriana]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989dab8ab0ee8fa60bad8c9

Cryptocercus punctulatus and Parasphaeria boleiriana are two distantly related xylophagous and subsocial cockroaches. Cryptocercus is related to termites. Xylophagous cockroaches and termites are excellent model organisms for studying the symbiotic relationship between the insect and their microbiota. In this study, high-throughput 454 pyrosequencing of 16S rRNA was used to investigate the diversity of metagenomic gut communities of C. punctulatus and P. boleiriana, and thereby to identify possible shifts in symbiont allegiances during cockroaches evolution. Our results revealed that the hindgut prokaryotic communities of both xylophagous cockroaches are dominated by members of four Bacteria phyla: Bacteroidetes, Firmicutes, Proteobacteria, and Actinobacteria. Other identified phyla were Spirochaetes, Planctomycetes, candidatus Saccharibacteria (formerly TM7), and Acidobacteria, each of which represented 1–2% of the total population detected. Community similarity based on phylogenetic relatedness by unweighted UniFrac analyses indicated that the composition of the bacterial community in the two species was significantly different (P < 0.05). Phylogenetic analysis based on the characterized clusters of Bacteroidetes, Spirochaetes, and Deltaproteobacteria showed that many OTUs present in both cockroach species clustered with sequences previously described in termites and other cockroaches, but not with those from other animals or environments. These results suggest that, during their evolution, those cockroaches conserved several bacterial communities from the microbiota of a common ancestor. The ecological stability of those microbial communities may imply the important functional role for the survival of the host of providing nutrients in appropriate quantities and balance.

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<![CDATA[Allometric Scaling of Patrolling Rate and Nest Volume in Constrictotermes cyphergaster Termites: Hints on the Settlement of Inquilines]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db3aab0ee8fa60bd45db

Structural and functional traits of organisms are known to be related to the size of individuals and to the size of their colonies when they belong to one. Among such traits, propensity to inquilinism in termites is known to relate positively to colony size. Larger termitaria hold larger diversity of facultative inquilines than smaller nests, whereas obligate inquilines seem unable to settle in nests smaller than a threshold volume. Respective underlying mechanisms, however, remain hypothetical. Here we test one of such hypotheses, namely, that nest defence correlates negatively to nest volume in Constrictotermes cyphergaster termites (Termitidae: Nasutitermitinae). As a surrogate to defence, we used ‘patrolling rate’, i.e., the number of termite individuals attending per unit time an experimentally damaged spot on the outer wall of their termitaria. We found that patrolling rate decayed allometrically with increasing nest size. Conspicuously higher patrolling rates occurred in smaller nests, while conspicuously lower rates occurred in larger nests presenting volumes in the vicinity of the threshold value for the establishment of inquilinism. This could be proven adaptive for the host and guest. At younger nest age, host colonies are smaller and presumably more vulnerable and unstable. Enhanced defence rates may, hence, prevent eventual risks to hosts from inquilinism at the same time that it prevents inquilines to settle in a still unstable nest. Conversely, when colonies grow and maturate enough to stand threats, they would invest in priorities other than active defence, opening an opportunity for inquilines to settle in nests which are more suitable or less risky. Under this two-fold process, cohabitation between host and inquiline could readily stabilize.

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<![CDATA[Transcriptome Analysis and Differential Gene Expression on the Testis of Orange Mud Crab, Scylla olivacea, during Sexual Maturation]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db4fab0ee8fa60bdb864

Adequate genetic information is essential for sustainable crustacean fisheries and aquaculture management. The commercially important orange mud crab, Scylla olivacea, is prevalent in Southeast Asia region and is highly sought after. Although it is a suitable aquaculture candidate, full domestication of this species is hampered by the lack of knowledge about the sexual maturation process and the molecular mechanisms behind it, especially in males. To date, data on its whole genome is yet to be reported for S. olivacea. The available transcriptome data published previously on this species focus primarily on females and the role of central nervous system in reproductive development. De novo transcriptome sequencing for the testes of S. olivacea from immature, maturing and mature stages were performed. A total of approximately 144 million high-quality reads were generated and de novo assembled into 160,569 transcripts with a total length of 142.2 Mb. Approximately 15–23% of the total assembled transcripts were annotated when compared to public protein sequence databases (i.e. UniProt database, Interpro database, Pfam database and Drosophila melanogaster protein database), and GO-categorised with GO Ontology terms. A total of 156,181 high-quality Single-Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) were mined from the transcriptome data of present study. Transcriptome comparison among the testes of different maturation stages revealed one gene (beta crystallin like gene) with the most significant differential expression—up-regulated in immature stage and down-regulated in maturing and mature stages. This was further validated by qRT-PCR. In conclusion, a comprehensive transcriptome of the testis of orange mud crabs from different maturation stages were obtained. This report provides an invaluable resource for enhancing our understanding of this species’ genome structure and biology, as expressed and controlled by their gonads.

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<![CDATA[An Efficient Antioxidant System in a Long-Lived Termite Queen]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da08ab0ee8fa60b768be

The trade-off between reproduction and longevity is known in wide variety of animals. Social insect queens are rare organisms that can achieve a long lifespan without sacrificing fecundity. The extended longevity of social insect queens, which contradicts the trade-off, has attracted much attention because it implies the existence of an extraordinary anti-aging mechanism. Here, we show that queens of the termite Reticulitermes speratus incur significantly lower oxidative damage to DNA, protein and lipid and have higher activity of antioxidant enzymes than non-reproductive individuals (workers and soldiers). The levels of 8-hydroxy-2’-deoxyguanosine (oxidative damage marker of DNA) were lower in queens than in workers after UV irradiation. Queens also showed lower levels of protein carbonyls and malondialdehyde (oxidative damage markers of protein and lipid, respectively). The antioxidant enzymes of insects are generally composed of catalase (CAT) and peroxiredoxin (Prx). Queens showed more than two times higher CAT activity and more than seven times higher expression levels of the CAT gene RsCAT1 than workers. The CAT activity of termite queens was also markedly higher in comparison with other solitary insects and the queens of eusocial Hymenoptera. In addition, queens showed higher expression levels of the Prx gene RsPRX6. These results suggested that this efficient antioxidant system can partly explain why termite queens achieve long life. This study provides important insights into the evolutionary linkage of reproductive division of labor and the development of queens’ oxidative stress resistance in social insects.

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<![CDATA[Uric acid, an important antioxidant contributing to survival in termites]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db5eab0ee8fa60be0b3a

Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are generated spontaneously in all organisms and cause oxidative damage to biomolecules when present in excess. Accumulated oxidative damage accelerates aging; enhanced antioxidant capacity may be a positive factor for longevity. Recently, numerous studies of aging and longevity have been performed using short-lived animals, however, longevity mechanisms remain unknown. Here we show that a termite Reticulitermes speratus that is thought to be long-lived eusocial insect than other solitary insects uses large quantities of uric acid as an antioxidant against ROS. We demonstrated that the accumulation of uric acid considerably increases the free radical-scavenging activity and resistance against ultraviolet-induced oxidative stress in laboratory-maintained termites. In addition, we found that externally administered uric acid aided termite survival under highly oxidative conditions. The present data demonstrates that in addition to nutritional and metabolic roles, uric acid is an essential antioxidant for survival and contributes significantly to longevity. Uric acid also plays important roles in primates but causes gout when present in excess in humans. Further longevity studies of long-lived organisms may provide important breakthroughs with human health applications.

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<![CDATA[Characterization of Antibacterial Activities of Eastern Subterranean Termite, Reticulitermes flavipes, against Human Pathogens]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989d9fdab0ee8fa60b72ad4

The emergence and dissemination of multidrug resistant bacterial pathogens necessitate research to find new antimicrobials against these organisms. We investigated antimicrobial production by eastern subterranean termites, Reticulitermes flavipes, against a panel of bacteria including three multidrug resistant (MDR) and four non-MDR human pathogens. We determined that the crude extract of naïve termites had a broad-spectrum activity against the non-MDR bacteria but it was ineffective against the three MDR pathogens Pseudomonas aeruginosa, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), and Acinetobacter baumannii. Heat or trypsin treatment resulted in a complete loss of activity suggesting that antibacterial activity was proteinaceous in nature. The antimicrobial activity changed dramatically when the termites were fed with either heat-killed P. aeruginosa or MRSA. Heat-killed P. aeruginosa induced activity against P. aeruginosa and MRSA while maintaining or slightly increasing activity against non-MDR bacteria. Heat-killed MRSA induced activity specifically against MRSA, altered the activity against two other Gram-positive bacteria, and inhibited activity against three Gram-negative bacteria. Neither the naïve termites nor the termites challenged with heat-killed pathogens produced antibacterial activity against A. baumannii. Further investigation demonstrated that hemolymph, not the hindgut, was the primary source of antibiotic activity. This suggests that the termite produces these antibacterial activities and not the hindgut microbiota. Two-dimensional gel electrophoretic analyses of 493 hemolymph protein spots indicated that a total of 38 and 65 proteins were differentially expressed at least 2.5-fold upon being fed with P. aeruginosa and MRSA, respectively. Our results provide the first evidence of constitutive and inducible activities produced by R. flavipes against human bacterial pathogens.

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<![CDATA[Developmental Instability in Incipient Colonies of Social Insects]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db01ab0ee8fa60bc6bfa

Social insect colonies can provide homeostatic conditions that buffer the incidence of environmental fluctuations on individuals, which have contributed to their ecological success. Coptotermes (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae) is a highly invasive termite genus and several species have important economic impact in many areas of the world. Mature Coptotermes colonies with millions of individuals can provide optimal environmental condition and nurturing capacity for the developing brood. However, it was previously suggested that contrary to mature colonies, incipient colonies may be exposed to critical stress, which may explain for the low success rate of establishment within the first year of the life of a termite colony. We here investigated the stress imposed on individuals of incipient colonies by comparing the developmental instability of individuals between incipient and mature colonies of two Coptotermes species, C. formosanus Shiraki and C. gestroi (Wasmann). We assessed the developmental instability by measuring the asymmetry of morphological traits from the head capsule of the soldier caste. Soldiers from incipient colonies of both species displayed strong asymmetrical traits in comparison to soldiers from mature colonies. We suggest that homeostatic conditions for optimal development are reached as the colony matures, and confirmed that the incipient colony remains a critical bottleneck where individuals are exposed to high developmental stress.

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<![CDATA[Phylogenetic reconstruction of Syntermitinae (Isoptera, Termitidae) based on morphological and molecular data]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db50ab0ee8fa60bdc0a2

The subfamily Syntermitinae comprises a group of Neotropical termites with 18 genera and 101 species described. It has been considered a natural group, but relationships among the genera within the subfamily remain uncertain, and some genera appear to be non-monophyletic. Here, we provide a comprehensive phylogeny including six Neotropical species of Termitinae as outgroup, 42 Syntermitinae species as ingroup, 92 morphological characters (from external and internal anatomy of soldier and worker castes) and 117 molecular sequences (109 obtained for this study and 8 from GenBank) of 4 gene regions (41 and 22 from Cytochrome Oxidase I and II respectively, 19 from Cytochrome b, and 35 from 16S rDNA). Morphological and molecular data were analyzed in combination, with the Bayesian inference method, and the important aspects of termite biology, defense and feeding habits are discussed based on the resulting tree. Although useful for providing diagnostic characters, the morphology of the soldier caste reveals several cases of convergence; whereas the feeding habit shows indications of evolutionary significance.

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<![CDATA[Genetically Engineered Yeast Expressing a Lytic Peptide from Bee Venom (Melittin) Kills Symbiotic Protozoa in the Gut of Formosan Subterranean Termites]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989d9d2ab0ee8fa60b64ba0

The Formosan subterranean termite, Coptotermes formosanus Shiraki, is a costly invasive urban pest in warm and humid regions around the world. Feeding workers of the Formosan subterranean termite genetically engineered yeast strains that express synthetic protozoacidal lytic peptides has been shown to kill the cellulose digesting termite gut protozoa, which results in death of the termite colony. In this study, we tested if Melittin, a natural lytic peptide from bee venom, could be delivered into the termite gut via genetically engineered yeast and if the expressed Melittin killed termites via lysis of symbiotic protozoa in the gut of termite workers and/or destruction of the gut tissue itself. Melittin expressing yeast did kill protozoa in the termite gut within 56 days of exposure. The expressed Melittin weakened the gut but did not add a synergistic effect to the protozoacidal action by gut necrosis. While Melittin could be applied for termite control via killing the cellulose-digesting protozoa in the termite gut, it is unlikely to be useful as a standalone product to control insects that do not rely on symbiotic protozoa for survival.

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<![CDATA[Tyraminergic and Octopaminergic Modulation of Defensive Behavior in Termite Soldier]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989daabab0ee8fa60ba97d4

In termites, i.e. a major group of eusocial insects, the soldier caste exhibits specific morphological characteristics and extremely high aggression against predators. Although the genomic background is identical to the other non-aggressive castes, they acquire the soldier-specific behavioral character during the course of caste differentiation. The high aggressiveness and defensive behavior is essential for colony survival, but the neurophysiological bases are completely unknown. In the present study, using the damp-wood termite Hodotermopsis sjostedti, we focused on two biogenic amines, octopamine (OA) and tyramine (TA), as candidate neuromodulators for the defensive behavior in soldiers. High-performance liquid chromatographic analysis revealed that TA levels in the brain and suboesophageal ganglion (SOG) and the OA level in brain were increased in soldiers than in pseudergates (worker caste). Immunohistochemical analysis revealed that TA/OA neurons that innervate specific areas, including the mandibular muscles, antennal nerve, central complex, suboesophageal ganglion, and thoracic and/or abdominal ganglia, were enlarged in a soldier-specific manner. Together with the results that pharmacological application of TA promoted the defensive behavior in pseudergates, these findings suggest that the increased TA/OA levels induce the higher aggressiveness and defensive behavior in termite soldiers. The projection targets of these soldier-specific enlarged TA/OA neurons may have important roles in the higher aggressiveness and defensive behavior of the termite soldiers, inducing the neuronal transition that accompanies external morphological changes.

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