Diversity, properties and ecological significance of the genus Termitomyces associated with fungus farming termites in Africa

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Review Paper 01/07/2014
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Diversity, properties and ecological significance of the genus Termitomyces associated with fungus farming termites in Africa

Josiah Ochieng Kuja, Hamadi Iddi Boga, Viviene Matiru, Huxley Mae Makonde
Int. J. Micro. Myco.2( 3), 29-36, July 2014.
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Abstract

The fungus-cultivating termites constitute part of diverse termite fauna in Africa that include Macrotermes, Odontotermes, Microtermes among others. Mutualistic relationship between lineages of fungi (Agaricomycetes, Lyophyllaceae, Termitomyces) and the fungus cultivating termites remains obscure. The complex association between the Termitomyces symbionts and termites is due the distinct organization strategies of members in the genus Termitomyces and other micro-symbionts including Xylaria/Pseudoxylaria within the termite mounds. We have reviewed the diversity, properties, and ecological significance of the genus Termitomyces in Africa as a continent, which harbours diverse species of flora and fauna. The organization of these fungal species within the mounds is exceptional and leniently forms a distinct micro-environment that supports diverse species of micro-organisms. Enzymatic assays have also revealed that Termitomyces species play significant roles in balancing the ecosystem within the termite mounds. The review has established sixteen Termitomyces species that have been recently published in Africa. In comparison to the diverse fungus-farming termites, this is an indication of limited findings. The diversity of Termitomyces species is still underexplored despite its interesting symbiotic interactions; hence, newly emerging methods to improve its classification and mutualistic association should be explored.

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