, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp 75–83 | Cite as

Nitrogen Fixation by Termites in Tropical Forests, Thailand

  • Akinori Yamada
  • Tetsushi Inoue
  • Decha Wiwatwitaya
  • Moriya OhkumaEmail author
  • Toshiaki Kudo
  • Atsuko Sugimoto


Nitrogen (N) fixed by termites was evaluated as a N input to decomposition processes in two tropical forests, a dry deciduous forest (DDF) and the neighboring dry evergreen forest (DEF), Thailand. A diverse group of termite species were assayed by acetylene reduction method and only the wood/litter-feeding termites were found to fix N. More intensive samplings of two abundant species, Microcerotermes crassus and Globitermes sulphureus, were done across several seasons, suggesting N fixation rates of 0.21 and 0.28 kg ha−1 y−1 by termites in the DDF and DEF, respectively. Also, estimates of asymbiotic N fixation rates were 0.75 and 3.95 kg ha−1 y−1. N fixed by termites and by asymbiotic fixers is directly supplied to decomposers breaking down dead plant material and could be a major source of their N. N fixed by termites was 7–22% of that fixed by termites and asymbiotic fixers. Although N fixed by termites is a small input compared to other inputs, this N is likely important for decomposition processes.


acetylene reduction assay asymbiotic nitrogen fixation decomposition process litter and dead wood nitrogen fixation by termites tropical forests 



We thank the National Research Council of Thailand, the people who are working at Sakaerat Environmental Research Station, T. Johjima, Y. Hongoh, C. Boontong, S. Trakulnaleamsai, and N. Noparatnaraporn for their kind cooperation. We thank the chemical analysis section of RIKEN for the elemental analyses, M. B. Wamalwa, I. Tayasu, and two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on the manuscript, and A. Haraguchi and R. Araki for improving the English of the manuscript. This work was supported by Grant-in-Aid (09NP1501) for Creative Basic Research from Japan Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, and in part by grants from the Bioarchitect Research Program and the Eco Molecular Science Research Program from RIKEN. The first author (A. Y.) was also supported by a grant from the Junior Research Associate Program from RIKEN.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Akinori Yamada
    • 1
    • 2
    • 7
  • Tetsushi Inoue
    • 3
    • 4
  • Decha Wiwatwitaya
    • 5
  • Moriya Ohkuma
    • 1
    • 3
    • 4
    Email author
  • Toshiaki Kudo
    • 1
    • 3
    • 6
  • Atsuko Sugimoto
    • 2
    • 8
  1. 1.Environmental Molecular Biology LaboratoryRIKENWakoJapan
  2. 2.Center for Ecological ResearchKyoto UniversityShigaJapan
  3. 3.JST Bio-Recycle ProjectKasetsart University Research and Development Institute (KURDI)BangkokThailand
  4. 4.Japan Science and Technology AgencyKawaguchiJapan
  5. 5.Faculty of ForestryKasetsart UniversityBangkokThailand
  6. 6.Division of Environmental Molecular BiologyGraduate School of Integrated Science, Yokohama City UniversityYokohamaJapan
  7. 7.Center of Molecular BiosciencesUniversity of the RyukyusNishiharaJapan
  8. 8.Graduate School of Environmental Earth ScienceHokkaido UniversitySapporoJapan

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