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Patterns of [FeFe] Hydrogenase Diversity in the Gut Microbial Communities of Lignocellulose-Feeding Higher Termites

Ballor, Nicholas R. and Leadbetter, Jared R. (2012) Patterns of [FeFe] Hydrogenase Diversity in the Gut Microbial Communities of Lignocellulose-Feeding Higher Termites. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 78 (15). pp. 5368-5374. ISSN 0099-2240. PMCID PMC3416405.

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Hydrogen is the central free intermediate in the degradation of wood by termite gut microbes and can reach concentrations exceeding those measured for any other biological system. Degenerate primers targeting the largest family of [FeFe] hydrogenases observed in a termite gut metagenome have been used to explore the evolution and representation of these enzymes in termites. Sequences were cloned from the guts of the higher termites Amitermes sp. strain Cost010, Amitermes sp. strain JT2, Gnathamitermes sp. strain JT5, Microcerotermes sp. strain Cost008, Nasutitermes sp. strain Cost003, and Rhyncotermes sp. strain Cost004. Each gut sample harbored a more rich and evenly distributed population of hydrogenase sequences than observed previously in the guts of lower termites and Cryptocercus punctulatus. This accentuates the physiological importance of hydrogen for higher termite gut ecosystems and may reflect an increased metabolic burden, or metabolic opportunity, created by a lack of gut protozoa. The sequences were phylogenetically distinct from previously sequenced [FeFe] hydrogenases. Phylogenetic and UniFrac comparisons revealed congruence between host phylogeny and hydrogenase sequence library clustering patterns. This may reflect the combined influences of the stable intimate relationship of gut microbes with their host and environmental alterations in the gut that have occurred over the course of termite evolution. These results accentuate the physiological importance of hydrogen to termite gut ecosystems.

Item Type:Article
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URLURL TypeDescription CentralArticle
Leadbetter, Jared R.0000-0002-7033-0844
Additional Information:© 2012 American Society for Microbiology. Received 29 December 2011 Accepted 17 May 2012. Published ahead of print 25 May 2012. This research was supported by grants from the NSF (MCB-0523267, to J.R.L.) and the DOE (DE-FG02-07ER64484, to J.R.L.), as well as by an NSF Graduate Student Research Fellowship (to N.R.B.). Specimens from Joshua Tree National Park were collected under a National Park Service research permit (0JOTR-208-SCI-0002). We thank our laboratory colleagues and anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments during the preparation and review of the manuscript.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Department of Energy (DOE)DE-FG02-07ER64484
NSF Graduate Student Research FellowshipUNSPECIFIED
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Other Numbering System NameOther Numbering System ID
Joshua Tree National Park Service research permitJOTR-2008-SCI-0002
Issue or Number:15
PubMed Central ID:PMC3416405
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20120817-145432520
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Official Citation:Patterns of [FeFe] Hydrogenase Diversity in the Gut Microbial Communities of Lignocellulose-Feeding Higher Termites Nicholas R. Ballor and Jared R. Leadbetter Appl. Environ. Microbiol. August 2012 78:5368-5374; published ahead of print 25 May 2012 , doi:10.1128/AEM.08008-11
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:33307
Deposited By: Ruth Sustaita
Deposited On:17 Aug 2012 22:57
Last Modified:22 Apr 2020 20:03

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