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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Sustainable Agricultural Systems Laboratory » Research » Research Project #433502

Research Project: The Microbiome of Fungal Farming Termite (Macrotermes) Habitat and Implications for Landscape Level Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Location: Sustainable Agricultural Systems Laboratory

Project Number: 8042-12120-002-001-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Sep 8, 2017
End Date: Sep 7, 2022

Analyze the interior, exterior, fungal mass (crop) and adjacent non-termite soils of Macrotermes mounds collected in southern Africa. Use next-generation sequencing technology to better understand the mound area and microbial community involved with termite nutrient acquisition, disease ecology and greenhouse gas emissions. Assess the abundance of microbial genes responsible for denitrification and methanogensis from metagenomic sequencing, to determine the potential for greenhouse gas emisions from termite habitats. Scale this information to landscape estimates of termite naturalization in southern Africa.

USDA-ARS BARC and UMD College Park, are conducting experiments on complex agricultural and natural communities that impact our environment and in many cases microbial organisms play a critical role in whether the impact is positive or negative. In our research investigating sinks and sources of greenhouse gases in agricultural systems. Globaly, after cows, termites produce a large proportion of greenhouse gases such as methane and nitrous oxide. Understanding natural insect/microbe communities that contribute to greenhouse gas emisions will inform the pathway to eventually managing microbial communities in anthropogenic environments such as agriculture. Collaborators in Namibia have sampled Macrotermes mounds in a replicated pattern across the savana landscape that makes up a large portion of cheetah habitat in southern Africa. Soil and biomass samples have been transported to our USDA labs in Beltsville. Nucleic acids will be extracted and analized for fungal and bacterial communities via high throughput illumina sequencing.