T. Chouvenc, University of Florida

ScienceShot: Bacteria and Termites Team Up

Helen Fields is a freelance science writer based in Washington, D.C.

The Formosan subterranean termite (Coptotermes formosanus) is native to southern China, but the aggressive little chompers have set up huge destructive colonies worldwide, including in the southeastern United States and Hawaii. They build the inner structure of their underground nests with a blend of chewed-up wood that used to be your house with their own excrement. In a study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, researchers in Florida studied that recipe, called carton material (in photo above), and found a good purpose for the poop: It hosts protective bacteria, which can fight a termite-killing fungus.

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Posted in Plants & Animals