Clevelandina reticulotermitidis Leslie Schmidt -
Clevelandina reticulitermitidis is one of the five large symbiotic spirochetes in the family Pillotinacaea. (The others are: Cristispira pectinis, Diplocalyx calotermitidis, Hollandina pterotermitidis, and Pillotina calotermitidis.) These large spirochetes are found in the hind gut of dry-wood cockroaches and the paunch of subterranean termites. Three species of termites in the United States have been found with this microorganism: Reticulitermes flavipes, Reticuliterms Hesperus, and Reticulitermes tibialis.
Clevelandina reticulitermitidis is Gram-negative, motile, and morphologically complex. They are oblogate symbiotic anaerobes, and die within minutes of exposure to air. They have 30-50 flagella, which are located in the periplasm of the bacteria. The flagella are characteristically found in an n:2n:n array. C. reticulitermitidis are oblong in shape and are between 0.4 to 0.8 micrometers in diameter. The larger size of these microorganisms separate them from the members of the family Spirochaetaceae. These organisms also contain a silon, which is a contact between the inner and outer membranes which extends longitudinally.
C. reticulitermitidis has been found in the distal portion of the hind gut of healthy termites in all stages and castes, including larvae, pseudergates, alates, and soldiers. They are found in association with dense populations of hypermastigote and polymastigote protists and other bacteria. Generally, there are between 105 and 106 protists and between 109 and 1011 bacterial per milliliter of hind gut fluid. These microorganisms can be found in many situations, but they possess a sticky surface that causes them to attach to other surfaces. They can be found swimming freely in the lumen, or attached to the surface of protists or other bacteria. They can also attach to each other and form moving bundles. They can be found beating in synchrony attached to the surface of debris or mastigotes. When attached to mastigotes, C. reticulitermitidis demonstrates motility symbioses by moving the host microorganisms. Lastly, they can be found engulfed in the cytoplasm of protists.
C. reticulitermitidis is transferred to a new species through mouth-to-anus or anus-to-anus contact. They do not seem to serve any practical purpose in termites. They are not essential in cellulose digestion, because the termites can survive without these microorganisms. However, they cannot survive without the other protists, and die within a few days after they are removed from the termite.
This family can be seen with a light microscope, but ultrastructural techniques are needed to identify the species. They can be observed in wet mounts, diluted with Tragerís fluid, for up to 24 hours. There has been no medium found that permits in vitro growth.
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*Disclaimer - This report was written by a student participaring in a microbiology course at the Missouri University of Science and Technology. The accuracy of the contents of this report is not guaranteed and it is recommended that you seek additional sources of information to verify the contents.
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