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Termites play a major role in the recycling of photosynthetically fixed carbon. With the aid of their symbiotic intestinal flora, they are able to degrade extensively wood constituents such as cellulose and hemicellulose. Nevertheless, the microbial species involved in the degradation of hemicelluloses are poorly defined. The purpose of this paper was to examine the microflora involved in hemicellulose degradation. Different aerobic and facultatively anaerobic bacteria and yeasts were isolated using xylan, arabinogalactan and carboxymethylcellulose as substrates. Gram-positive isolates belonged to the genera Bacillus, Paenibacillus, Streptomyces or the actinobacteria group, while the Gram-negative strains were assigned to the genera Pseudomonas, Acinetobacter, Ochrobactrum, and to genera belonging to the family Enterobacteriaceae. The spectrum and activity of xylan- and arabinogalactan-hydrolysing glycosidases of these new isolates, together with additional bacterial strains originally obtained from enrichments with aromatic compounds were determined.


A Schäfer, R Konrad, T Kuhnigk, P Kämpfer, H Hertel, H König. Hemicellulose-degrading bacteria and yeasts from the termite gut. The Journal of applied bacteriology. 1996 May;80(5):471-8

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PMID: 9072518

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