Functional and Metabolic Implications

The most intriguing question concerns the physiology and metabolic function of the symbiotic bacteria of the termite gut flagellates. Assuming that the growth rate of gut bacteria is not necessarily sufficient to compensate for the high dilution rates of the hindgut contents, it would be advantageous for prokaryotes to associate with the protozoa to prevent wash-out from this substrate-rich and favorable environment. The intimacy of many associations, especially the elaborate attachment structures, however, indicate that there is a mutual advantage.

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