Microbial Ecology

, Volume 65, Issue 1, pp 197–204 | Cite as

Microbial Community Diversity in the Gut of the South American Termite Cornitermes cumulans (Isoptera: Termitidae)

  • Maria Angela B. Grieco
  • Janaina J. V. Cavalcante
  • Alexander M. Cardoso
  • Ricardo P. Vieira
  • Ednildo A. Machado
  • Maysa M. Clementino
  • Marcelo N. Medeiros
  • Rodolpho M. Albano
  • Eloi S. Garcia
  • Wanderley de Souza
  • Reginaldo Constantino
  • Orlando B. Martins
Invertebrate Microbiology


Termites inhabit tropical and subtropical areas where they contribute to structure and composition of soils by efficiently degrading biomass with aid of resident gut microbiota. In this study, culture-independent molecular analysis was performed based on bacterial and archaeal 16S rRNA clone libraries to describe the gut microbial communities within Cornitermes cumulans, a South American litter-feeding termite. Our data reveal extensive bacterial diversity, mainly composed of organisms from the phyla Spirochaetes, Bacteroidetes, Firmicutes, Actinobacteria, and Fibrobacteres. In contrast, a low diversity of archaeal 16S rRNA sequences was found, comprising mainly members of the Crenarchaeota phylum. The diversity of archaeal methanogens was further analyzed by sequencing clones from a library for the mcrA gene, which encodes the enzyme methyl coenzyme reductase, responsible for catalyzing the last step in methane production, methane being an important greenhouse gas. The mcrA sequences were diverse and divided phylogenetically into three clades related to uncultured environmental archaea and methanogens found in different termite species. C. cumulans is a litter-feeding, mound-building termite considered a keystone species in natural ecosystems and also a pest in agriculture. Here, we describe the archaeal and bacterial communities within this termite, revealing for the first time its intriguing microbiota.


Archaeal Community Termite Species mcrA Gene Methanobrevibacter High Termite 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This work was supported by Petrobras (CENPES), FAPERJ, and CNPq. The authors are grateful to Dr. Martha Sorenson for the revision of the manuscript. We acknowledge the services of the Johanna Döbereiner Genome Sequencing facilities (IBqM/UFRJ). We thank Joyce Lima, Catia Chaia, and Denise Oliveira for library construction, sequencing, and technical assistance.

Supplementary material

248_2012_119_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (144 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 143 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maria Angela B. Grieco
    • 1
    • 8
  • Janaina J. V. Cavalcante
    • 1
  • Alexander M. Cardoso
    • 1
  • Ricardo P. Vieira
    • 2
  • Ednildo A. Machado
    • 3
  • Maysa M. Clementino
    • 4
  • Marcelo N. Medeiros
    • 1
  • Rodolpho M. Albano
    • 6
  • Eloi S. Garcia
    • 1
    • 5
  • Wanderley de Souza
    • 1
    • 3
  • Reginaldo Constantino
    • 7
  • Orlando B. Martins
    • 2
  1. 1.Diretoria de Programa - DIPROInstituto Nacional de Metrologia, Qualidade e Tecnologia -INMETRORio de JaneiroBrazil
  2. 2.Instituto de Bioquímica MédicaUniversidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ)Rio de JaneiroBrazil
  3. 3.Instituto de Biofísica Carlos Chagas FilhoUniversidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ)Rio de JaneiroBrazil
  4. 4.Instituto Nacional de Controle de Qualidade em SaúdeFundação Oswaldo Cruz (FIOCRUZ)Rio de JaneiroBrazil
  5. 5.Instituto Oswaldo CruzFundação Oswaldo Cruz (FIOCRUZ)Rio de JaneiroBrazil
  6. 6.Departamento de BioquímicaUniversidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro (UERJ)Rio de JaneiroBrazil
  7. 7.Instituto de Ciências Biológicas, Departamento de ZoologiaUniversidade de Brasília (UNB)BrasiliaBrazil
  8. 8.Instituto Nacional de Metrologia, Qualidade e TecnologiaDiretoria de Programa-DIPRORio de JaneiroBrazil

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