Carbon dioxide levels as defence against infections in fungus-growing termites

Målgruppe:Biology, Biochemistry

Fungus-growing termites farm a monoculture of their fungal crop (Termitomyces) for food. However, low genetic diversity combined with a high abundance of the crop makes it a perfect target for parasites and pathogens. The termites employ a wide array of strategies to fight these pathogens and keep their fungus comb clean. One potential barrier could be the way their nest is built. Although the nest itself is well ventilated, the area around the fungus comb can contain up to 5% CO2. Could this high concentration be used for keeping out diseases? If the termites and their fungal crop are adapted to survive at high concentration of CO2, but pathogens are not, this could be yet another barrier to prevent infections from occurring.

Anvendte metoder:Fungal culturing on solid and in liquid growth media. Incubation of fungal species at different CO2 levels using a CO2 incubator. The project will include optimization of rearing conditions for different fungal species (especially Termitomyces and the known antagonist Pseudoxylaria)
Keywords:Termitomyces, Pseudoxylaria, Fungus-growing termites, Fungal ecology, Adaptations
Vejleder(e): Michael Poulsen and postdoc Nick Bos