Annual Review of Entomology (2015) 60, 77-102

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Michael E. Scharf (2015)
Termites as targets and models for biotechnology
Annual Review of Entomology 60, 77-102
Abstract: Termites have many unique evolutionary adaptations associated with their eusocial lifestyles. Recent omics research has created a wealth of new information in numerous areas of termite biology (e.g., caste polyphenism, lignocellulose digestion, and microbial symbiosis) with wide-ranging applications in diverse biotechnological niches. Termite biotechnology falls into two categories: (a) termite-targeted biotechnology for pest management purposes, and (b) termite-modeled biotechnology for use in various industrial applications. The first category includes several candidate termiticidal modes of action such as RNA interference, digestive inhibition, pathogen enhancement, antimicrobials, endocrine disruption, and primer pheromone mimicry. In the second category, termite digestomes are deep resources for host and symbiont lignocellulases and other enzymes with applications in a variety of biomass, industrial, and processing applications. Moving forward, one of the most important approaches for accelerating advances in both termite-targeted and termite-modeled biotechnology will be to consider host and symbiont together as a single functional unit.
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