Role of microbiota in wood degradation by Reticulitermes grassei and Bursaphelenchus xylophilus

IRG/WP 22-20684

L Robertson, S Rames, M Uriel, J M González, F Llinares, S M Santos, M T Troya

Xylophagous organisms can cause damage both in forests and in felled wood. Bursaphelenchus xylophilus, which causes "Sudden Pine Wilting" in coniferous forest masses, and is currently considered a quarantine organism in the European Union. On the other hand, structural and carpentry wood is affected by subterranean termites (Reticulitermes spp.), that cause serious damage, both in buildings and furniture. Solutions for the control of both organisms have been evaluated, and mainly based on chemical or physical treatments. Lately more eco-sustainable biocontrol and/or bioprotection techniques are being investigated. Among these techniques, the modification of the associated microbiota is being studied, in nematode or entomopathogenic microorganisms, with metabolites that are capable of controlling both organisms. As these products are of biological origin they may minimize the environmental impact. The application of these latest techniques requires a deep understanding of the associated microbiota. Therefore, the objective of this work has been to identify the microbiota present in Bursaphelenchus xylophilus and Reticulitermes grassei, as well as their main enzymatic activities and how they may play important roles in the degradation of wood. The results have shown cellulase, chitinase and protease activities, enzymes that could serve as indicative parameters in the control of both organisms. This study opens future treatment techniques against both pests, within a sustainable bioeconomy.

Keywords: Reticulitermes grassei, Bursaphelenchus xylophilus, sequencing, enzyme activity, diagnosis, 16S ribosomal RNA

Conference: 22-05-29/06-02 Bled, Slovenia

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