Tag Archives: Isoptera

Termites Give Us Fuel!


Scientists are mining a previously untapped resource for fuel: termite guts. Termites, those annoying buggers that eat us out of house and home, have the ability to break down cellulose–the substance that makes up the cell wall in woody plants. Many animals are unable to digest cellulose (mmm…fiber!) so it is a great biological feat to digest this substance and extract the nutrients.

Termites don’t do this on their own, however. They have a symbiotic relationships with bacteria that live in their digestive tracts. Its these bacteria that produce the enzymes to breakdown cellulose. Termites give the bacteria ready access to wood, and absorb the nutrients.

Entomologists are now tapping this resources to try and create biofuels. What a brilliant idea! I am of the personal opinion that insects can cure all human problems–but then I’m biased.