Methanogenic archaea in termite guts are easily visualized by the characteristic autofluorescence of their coenzyme F420. While the methanogens in the hindgut of Reticulitermes flavipes are mostly attached to the gut wall or to the surface of other prokaryotes (Leadbetter and Breznak 1996), they are also associated with protozoa in other termites, either as epibionts (Fig. 4) or as endosymbionts (see below) of certain smaller gut flagellates (Lee et al. 1987; Tokura et al. 2000). Most of the clones of methanoarchaea retrieved from lower termites cluster among the family Methanobacteriaceae (for references, see Ohkuma et al. 1999b; Tokura et al. 2000; Shinzato et al. 2001), and are closely related to the three Methanobrevibacter species that have been isolated from the gut of Reticulitermes flavipes (Leadbetter and Breznak 1996; Lead-better et al. 1998). They are assumed to participate in the consumption of H2 formed by the flagellates (see Sect. (8.)5).

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