|dc.description.abstract||The relationship between termites of the sub-family Macrotermitinae
and the symbiotic Basidiomycete fungus Termitomyces was
Fieldwork was carried out on several termite species at Mokwa
in the Southern Guinea savanna vegetation zone of Nigeria.
Termitomyces in nature and in culture is described.
A selective medium was developed to facilitate isolation of
Termitomyces. Optimum conditions of temperature and pH for
Termitomyces cultures associated with different termite species were
found to be 29°C and 5.2.
The appearance, production of cultural mycotetes, blastospore
size and germination of Termitomyces in culture was investigated.
The cultures from different termite species could not be separated
by these criteria.
Methods were established for investigating the microbial ecology
of Macrotermitinae nests. The fungal population and numbers and
location of Termitomyces was detemined for Macrotermes bellicosuss,
Macrotermes subhyalinus, Microtermmes species and for adjacent soils.
Termitomyces was only found in the fungus comb. Other fungi were
present there only as spores but when the comb was removed from
the nest these grew rapidly. A substance was found in extracts of
foodstore and termites preventing gemination of contaminant fungi.
Termitomyces was present in the digestive tract of Microtermes
foragers but only in very few Macrotermes bellicosus and Macrotermes
The establishment of Termitomyces in new nests occurred by
carriage of spores in the slate guts in Macrotermes bellicosus and
Microtermes and probably from basidiospores in tho non-carriers.
Termitomyces cultures produced polyphenol oxidases and cellulases
but Termitomyces was unable to utilize starch, chitin and pectic
substances. The nitrogen content of food, fungus comb and mycotetes
was 0.28, 0.82 and 6.68% respectively. Termites consume the fungus
comb and mycotetes and therefore Termitomycetes degrades nitrogen-poor
food and provides the termites with a relatively nitrogen-rich diet.||en_US