Cuckoo Fungus Mimics Termite Eggs by Producing the Cellulose-Digesting Enzyme β-Glucosidase

  title={Cuckoo Fungus Mimics Termite Eggs by Producing the Cellulose-Digesting Enzyme $\beta$-Glucosidase},
  author={Kenji Matsuura and Toshihisa Yashiro and Ken Shimizu and Shingo Tatsumi and Takashi Tamura},
  journal={Current Biology},

Figures from this paper

Genetic diversity of termite-egg mimicking fungi “termite balls” within the nests of termites

Comparisons of these results with previous studies of fungus-growing ants and termites suggest that the level of genetic diversity of fungal symbionts within social insect nests may be important in shaping the outcome of the coevolutionary interaction, despite the fact that the mechanism for achieving genetic diversity varies with the evolutionary histories of the component species.

Parallel evolution of termite-egg mimicry by sclerotium-forming fungi in distant termite groups

The discovery of a novel type of termite ball (‘Z-type’) in the subtropical termite, Nasutitermes takasagoensis, is reported and Phylogenetic analysis indicated that the Z-typetermite ball is an undescribed Trechisporoid fungus that is phylogenetically distant from Fibularhizoctonia, indicating two independent origins oftermite-egg mimicry in sclerotium-forming fungi.

The nest fungus of the lower termite Reticulitermes labralis

It is confirmed for the first time that the workers carrying the sclerotia into the piles of eggs is not due to mistaking the s clerotia for their eggs and that the Workers of R. labralis may be able to select favourite fungi.

Antifungal activity of a termite queen pheromone against egg-mimicking termite ball fungi

It is demonstrated that volatile compounds in the queen pheromone of a termite, Reticulitermes speratus (Kolbe), have fungistatic properties, which supports the notion of evolutionary parsimony, wherein phersomones are originally used as defensive compounds and their communicative function develops secondarily.

A termite fungistatic compound, mellein, inhibits entomopathogenic fungi but not egg-mimicking termite ball fungi

Mellein, an isocoumarin compound with a broad antimicrobial activity, is identified in a subterranean termite Reticulitermes speratus (Kolbe) (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae), suggesting that R. s peratus use mellein to confront the pathogenic fungi and that the termite-egg-mimicking fungus has a resistance against mellein.

The Evolution of Glycoside Hydrolase Family 1 in Insects Related to Their Adaptation to Plant Utilization

The evolutionary history of an important gene family GH1 in insects is shown and it is found that GH1 is widely present in insects, while the gene numbers are significantly higher in insect herbivores directly feeding on plant cell walls than in other insects.


This dissertation attempts to explain the evolution of endogenous cellulose digestion in higher termites using phylogenetic inferences from mitochondrial (16S) ribosomal RNA, nuclear (28S), endo-β-1,4-glucanase and β-glUCosidase sequences.

Evolution and Function of Endogenous Termite Cellulases

Investigations into the roles of different members of the termite colony in digesting cellulose have begun, and have revealed major variations in the level of expression, including differences between different sized workers.



Termite-egg mimicry by a sclerotium-forming fungus

  • K. Matsuura
  • Biology
    Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
  • 2006
An extraordinary case of egg mimicry by a fungus, whereby the fungus gains competitor-free habitat in termite nests and parasitically mimic termite eggs is reported.

Distribution of termite egg-mimicking fungi ("termite balls") in Reticulitermes spp. (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae) nests in Japan and the United States

This study shows that R. flavipes and R. virginicus in the United States, as well as R. speratus in Japan, harbor the egg-mimicking fungus, which is a novel termite-fungus interaction and may be transported by termites to a competitor-free habitat.

Symbiosis of a termite and a sclerotium-forming fungus: Sclerotia mimic termite eggs

It is found that the workers suppressed germination of sclerotia, and termite egg survival increased in the presence of s clergyotia only if they were tended by the workers, suggesting that the sclerOTia protect termite eggs from putative pathogens.

Distribution and Phylogenetic Analysis of Termite Egg-Mimicking Fungi “Termite Balls” in Reticulitermes Termites

Analyses of termite ball distribution among nine Reticulitermes species suggested that climate is the most important factor restricting the distribution of thetermite ball fungi.

A cellulase gene of termite origin

The first insect cellulase-endoding gene to be identified, RsEG, which encodes an endo-β-1,4-glucanase (EC in the termite Reticulitermes speratus is described.

The Antibacterial Protein Lysozyme Identified as the Termite Egg Recognition Pheromone

This novel function of lysozyme as a termite pheromone illuminates the profound influence of pathogenic microbes on the evolution of social behaviour in termites and represents a major step forward in, and result in the broadening of, the search for recognition phersomones.

Symbiosis between Termites and Their Intestinal Protozoa.

  • Ļ. Cleveland
  • Biology
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
  • 1923
Careful examination of the intestinal contents of five workers of each species of termites in the U. S. National Museum revealed that wherever protozoa were present wood was also present and, mutatis mutandis, protozOA were present only when wood was present; thus confirming Imms' postulatum.

Nestmate recognition mediated by intestinal bacteria in a termite, Reticulitermes speratus

Experimental manipulation of the composition of bacteria by antibiotics successfully changed the recognition behavior toward nestmates, indicating that intestinal bacteria play an important role in nestmate recognition.

Insect-Fungal Associations: Ecology and Evolution

An impressive short book of ten chapters to cover the most important topics in this field, incorporating new molecular techniques wherever possible, and should appeal to worker in ecology, entomology, mycology, plant pathology, and biological control and pest management.