Termites and Trichonympha
Name: William F.
How do termites control the population of Trichonympha in
their intestines? In other words, what is the control mechanism for
keeping the population of the bacteria from growing exponentially and
killing the termite?
William, I suspect they lose their fair share of microorganisms out the back
door, as they defecate, so the population needs constant replenishing from
cell division. Just a guess.
Paul Mahoney, PhD
Revised -- 2005
Trichonympha is not a bacteria! It is a protist. They are acquired by contact
of young adult termites with adult termites. It should be pointed out that
different termite species have different protazoans working the cellulose
and lignin digestion.
I recall this information from a lecture in graduate school. Education is a wonderful thing!
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Update: June 2012