Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 24, Issue 8, pp 1397–1408

Microorganisms and Cellulose Digestion in the Gut of the Woodlouse Porcellio scaber

  • Martin Zimmer
  • Werner Topp

DOI: 10.1023/A:1021235001949

Cite this article as:
Zimmer, M. & Topp, W. J Chem Ecol (1998) 24: 1397. doi:10.1023/A:1021235001949


In the common woodlouse Porcellio scaber different parts of the gut were observed with respect to microbial counts, cellulose activity, and degradation of cellulose. Cellulose is mainly digested in the anterior part of the hindgut, as was indicated by the distribution of cellulolytic activity and the decrease of cellulose content inside the gut. The cellulases woodlice utilize for the degradation of litter are mainly produced by endosymbiotic bacteria in the hepatopancreas rather than by microorganisms ingested with the food. Microorganisms ingested with the litter are digested in the anterior part of the hindgut and may provide an important food source. In the posterior hindgut, bacterial proliferation ensures microbial colonization of feces.

Terrestrial isopodsOniscideaPorcellio scabergut microbesobligate endosymbiontshepatopancreatic bacteriacellulase activitycellulose digestionlitter degradationdecomposition

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martin Zimmer
    • 1
  • Werner Topp
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Zoology–Physiological EcologyUniversity of CologneKölnGermany