Archives of Microbiology

, Volume 173, Issue 2, pp 126–137

Characterization of abundance and diversity of lactic acid bacteria in the hindgut of wood- and soil-feeding termites by molecular and culture-dependent techniques

  • Sabine Bauer
  • Anne Tholen
  • Jörg Overmann
  • Andreas Brune
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s002039900120

Cite this article as:
Bauer, S., Tholen, A., Overmann, J. et al. Arch Microbiol (2000) 173: 126. doi:10.1007/s002039900120

Abstract

Lactic acid bacteria have been identified as typical and numerically significant members of the gut microbiota of Reticulitermes flavipes and other wood-feeding lower termites. We found that also in the guts of the higher termites Nasutitermes arborum (wood-feeding), Thoracotermes macrothorax, and Anoplotermes pacificus (both soil-feeding), lactic acid bacteria represent the largest group of culturable carbohydrate-utilizing bacteria (3.6–5.2×104 bacteria per gut; 43%–54% of all colonies). All isolates were coccoid and phenotypically difficult to distinguish, but their enterobacterial repetitive intergenic consensus sequence (ERIC) fingerprint patterns showed a significant genetic diversity. Six different genotypes each were identified among the isolates from R. flavipes and T. macrothorax, and representative strains were selected for further characterization. By 16S rRNA gene sequence analysis, strain RfL6 from R. flavipes was classified as a close relative of Enterococcus faecalis, whereas strain RfLs4 from R. flavipes and strain TmLO5 from T. macrothorax were closely related to Lactococcus lactis. All strains consumed oxygen during growth on glucose and cellobiose; oxygen consumption of these and other isolates from both termite species was due to NADH and pyruvate oxidase activities, but did not result in H2O2 formation. In order to assess the significance of the isolates in the hindgut, denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis was used to compare the fingerprints of 16S rRNA genes in the bacterial community of R. flavipes with those of representative isolates. The major DNA band from the hindgut bacterial community was further separated by bis-benzimide-polyethylene glycol electrophoresis, and the two resulting bands were sequenced. Whereas one sequence belonged to a spirochete, the second sequence was closely related to the sequences of the Lactococcus strains RfLs4 and TmLO5. Apparently, those isolates represent strains of a new Lactococcus species which forms a significant fraction of the complex hindgut community of the lower termite R. flavipes and possibly also of other termites.

Key words

Lactic acid bacteria Molecular fingerprinting Denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis Bis-benzimide-polyethylene glycol electrophoresis Bacterial diversity Culturability Insects Termites Intestinal microflora 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sabine Bauer
    • 1
  • Anne Tholen
    • 2
  • Jörg Overmann
    • 1
  • Andreas Brune
    • 2
  1. 1.Institut für Chemie und Biologie des Meeres, Universität Oldenburg, Postfach 2503, D-26111 Oldenburg, GermanyGermany
  2. 2.Fakultät für Biologie, Universität Konstanz, Fach M 654, D-78457 Konstanz, GermanyGermany

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