A good word for termites

Today, we learn that termites may be able to produce biofuel or at least the microorganisms that allow them to digest wood can do so. Most higher life forms that are able to convert cellulose to energy, do so through the activity of bacteria in their gut. This is not confined to cows chewing their cud. Here is a primer on the comparative anatomy of the gut in vertebrates. Cellulose is digested only by microorganisms. That is why herbivores have a large cecum, the dilated segment of the colon where the small bowel enters. Our cecum has shrunk and left a remnant, the appendix. We may have evolved from herbivores.What about insects ? This may be more than you wanted to know about it, but insects are also dependent on microorganisms for digestion of cellulose. The future of biotechnology is probably congruent with the future of science, certainly those areas that concern energy side from nuclear power.

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3 Responses to “A good word for termites”

  1. Eric Blair says:

    That was a great post, Dr. K. I know one of the coauthors, over at Caltech. Termites are fascinating, and their microbiota even more so. It’s like the saying goes: each of us is an ecology, a world of sorts.

  2. Eric, I think we are both on the spit list over at the Swamp. Better stay here.

  3. Eric Blair says:

    I bear very few people ill will. But I certainly don’t want any more trouble than I have seen already. Again: positive energy is better than anger.