Study of Bacteriophages from the Gut of Formosan Subterranean Termite; Coptotermes formosanus

Monday, March 16, 2015: 2:40 PM
Magnolia F (Beau Rivage Resort & Casino)
Chinmay Tikhe , Department of Entomology, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA
Bacteriophages are viruses that infect bacteria and are the most abundant biological entities on this planet. The number of bacteriophages on this planet is estimated to be around 1031. Bacteriophages influence the abundance of bacteria in the community and control the structure of the bacterial community via selective pressure and lateral gene transfer.The formosan subterranean termite, Coptotermes formosanus harbors a complex community of bacteria and protozoa in the gut. Termites acquire essential nutrients from the bacterial community and removal of this bacterial community has a negative impact on the fitness of termites. Presence of this rich bacterial community makes the termite gut a perfect niche for bacteriophages. To date, no studies have explored the presence and role of bacteriophages in the termite gut. In this study we isolated three bacteriophages from the gut of the termite. Whole genome sequencing confirmed that all three phages are novel. To the best of our knowledge, these are the only termite gut bacteriophages isolated and sequenced to date. We wish to use termites as a model to describe role of bacteriophages in the insect gut and also aim to establish phage therapy as a novel biocontrol method for termites.