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Biology of Termites: A Modern Synthesis




"Molecular basis underlying caste differentiation termites"
(Miura T & Scharf ME)



Biology of Termites, a Modern Synthesis brings together the major advances in termite biology, phylogenetics, social evolution and biogeography. In this new volume, David Bignell, Yves Roisin and Nathan Lo have brought together leading experts on termite taxonomy, behaviour, genetics, caste differentiation, physiology, microbiology, mound architecture, biogeography and control. Very strong evolutionary and developmental themes run through the individual chapters, fed by new data streams from molecular sequencing, and for the first time it is possible to compare the social organisation of termites with that of the social Hymenoptera, focusing on caste determination, population genetics, cooperative behaviour, nest hygiene and symbioses with microorganisms. New chapters have been added on termite pheromones, termites as pests of agriculture and on destructive invasive species.


1. An introduction to termites: biology, taxonomy and functional morphology (Paul Eggleton)

1.1. Introduction

1.2. Diversity, taxonomy, classification

1.3. The colony

1.4. The colony as (super)organism

1.5. Reproduction and dispersal: alates

1.6. Worker morphology

1.7. Construction, feeding and tending

1.8. Active defence: soldiers

1.9. Protection, stability, fortification: nests and mounds

1.10. Conclusions

2. Termite phylogenetics and co-cladogenesis with symbionts (Nathan Lo, Paul Eggleton)


2.2. Phylogenetic

2.3. Co-cladogenesis between cockroaches, termites, and their symbionts

2.4. Fossil history and key events leading to the origin of termites

2.5. Taxonomic implications of the phylogenetic position of termites

2.6. Termite phylogeny: morphological character sets

2.7. Phylogenetic and taxonomic relationships among Termites

2.8. Conclusions

3. Evolution and function of endogenous termite cellulases (Nathan Lo, Gaku Tokuda, Hirofumi Watanabe)

3.1. Introduction

3.2. Cellulose and cellulases

3.3. A brief history of cellulose research

3.4. Discovery of endogenous cellulose genes and their evolutionary origins

3.5. Endogenous endoglucanases and b-glucosidase copy number and expression in termites

3.6. Functional significance of endogenous cellulases

3.7. Caste specific production of cellulose genes

3.8. Conclusions

4. Altricial development in wood-feeding cockroaches: the key antecedent of termite eusociality (Christine A Nalepa)

4.1. Introduction

4.2. Altricial development

4.3. Altricial offspring: necessary precedent to eusociality

4.4. Altricial development becomes the norm

4.5. Conclusions

5. Eusocial evolution in termites and Hymenoptera (Kenneth J Howard, Barbara L. Thorne)

5.1. Introduction

5.2. Evolution from subsocial ancestors

5.3. Forms of helpers

5.4. Predisposition for eusociality

5.5. Selective processes promoting eusocial helpers

5.6. Synthesis

6. Social organization and the status of workers in termites (Yves Roisin, Judith Korb)

6.1. Introduction

6.2. Mastotermitidae

6.3. Wood-dwelling termites

6.4. Hodotermitidae

6.5. Rhinotermitidae, Serritermitidae and Termitidae

6.6. Origin and evolution of the worker caste

6.7. Conclusion: what is a worker?

7. Ecology, behavior and evolution of disease resistance in termites (Rebeca B Rosengaus, James FA Traniello, Mark S Bulmer)

7.1. Introduction

7.2. Phylogeny, eusociality and the evolution of disease resistance in termites

7.3. Termite microbial ecology, disease risk and immunocompetence

7.4. Social behavior and infection control

7.5. Termite life history, genetic diversity and disease resistance

7.6. Disease and colony foundation

7.7. Conclusions

8. Comparative biology of fungus cultivation in termites and ants (Tânia Nobre, Corinne Rouland-Lefèvre, Duur Aanen)

8.1. Introduction

8.2. Evolutionary history of fungiculture

8.3. Colony foundation and establishment of the fungus garden

8.4. Role of fungal symbiont

8.5. Fungus garden protection

8.6. Evolutionary stability

8.7. Concluding remarks

9. Molecular basis underlying caste differentiation in termites (Toru Miura, Michael E Scharf)

9.1. Introduction

9.2. A historical view of classic work on case determination and differentiation

9.3. Screening of genes responsible for caste differentiation: gene discovery and genomics

9.4. Investigation of gene functions in termites: functional genomics

9.5. Hormonal regulation of caste differentiation

9.6. Morphogenesis in caste differentiation

9.7. Social regulation of caste ratios

9.8. Sociogenomics in termites

9.9. Conclusions and perspectives

10. Sexual and asexual reproduction in termites (Kenji Matsuura)

10.1. Introduction

10.2. Facultative parthenogenesis in maleless colony Foundation

10.3. Mechanism of termite parthenogenesis

10.4. Asexual queen succession (AQS)

10.5. Parthenogenesis and recessive deleterious genes

10.6. Genetic basis of AQS

10.7. Comparison of AQS systems between termites and ants

10.8. Clues to find new AQS species

11. Pheromones and chemical ecology of dispersal and foraging in termites (Christian Bordereau, Jacques M Pasteels)

11.1. Introduction

11.2. Dispersal

11.3. Foraging

11.4. Pheromonal parsimony

11.5. Conclusions

12. Genetic structure of termite colonies and populations (Edward L Vargo, Claudia Husseneder)

12.1. Introduction

12.2. Genetic tools

12.3. Colony genetic structure

12.4. Population genetic structure

12.5. Phylogeography

12.6. Population genetics of invasive species

13. Termite mound architecture, from function to construction (Judith Korb)

13.1. Introduction

13.2. Function and functional significance of termite mound Architecture

13.2.1. Fungus growing termites

13.2.2. Magnetic termites

13.3. Proximate mechanisms of mound building

13.4. Concluding remarks

14. Morphology, physiology, biochemistry and functional design of the termite gut: an evolutionary Wonderland (David E Bignell)

14.1. Introduction

14.2. Structure and design: new insights

14.3. Physiology

14.4. Biochemistry

14.5. An overarching hypothesis of evolution

15. Diversity, structure and evolution of the termite gut microbial community (Moriya Ohkuma, Andreas Brune)

15.1. Introduction

15.2. Molecular phylogeny and evolution of protists

15.3. Bacterial diversity

15.4. Archaeal diversity

15.5. Comparisons among host termites

15.6. Spatial distributions in lower termites

15.7. Protist-prokaryote associations

15.8. Features of microbial communities in higher termites

15.9. Conclusions and perspective

16. Role of the termite gut microbiota in symbiotic digestion (Andreas Brune, Moriya Ohkuma)

16.1. Introduction

16.2. Digestion of wood polysaccharides

16.3. The anaerobic food web

16.4. Termite guts as gradient systems

16.5. Role of the gut microbiota in nitrogen metabolism

16.6. Digestion of soil organic matter

16.7. Do termites degrade lignin?

16.8. Conclusions

17. Global biogeography of termites: a compilation of sources (David T Jones, Paul Eggleton)

17.1. Introduction

17.2..Termite functional and taxonomic classification

17.3. Exemplar assemblages

17.4. Taxonomic richness

17.5. Comparison of assemblages within biomes: some pre-liminary observations

17.6. Implications of varying assemblage structures for termite mediated decomposition in different biomes

17.7. Conclusions

18. Termites as pests of tropical agriculture (Corinne Rouland-Lefèvre)

18.1. Introduction

18.2. Damage to tropical crops

18.3. Chemical control

18.4. Control by non-chemical means

18.5. Biological control

18.6. Conclusions

19. Invasive termites (Theodore A Evans)

19.1. Introduction

19.2. Definitions

19.3. List of invasive species

19.4. Characteristics of invasive species

19.5. Invaded habitats

19.6. Source habitats of invasive species

19.7. Future invasions? 

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