Comb establishment of fungus-growing termites species Macrotermitinae (Isoptera: Termitidae) with Termitomyces cylindricus (Basidiomycota: Agaricales) basidiospores.
Combs have a significant role as substrates for Termitomyces in providing nutrients for Macrotermitinae colonies. However, the process of comb establishment was poorly known. The study was to observe the process of fungal comb formation of fungus-growing termites in the laboratory. Each pair of alates from three species, i.e Microtermes insperatus Kemner, Macrotermes gilvus Hagen, and Odontotermes bogoriensis Kemner were reared and introduced to Termitomyces sp. basidiospores, meanwhile another pairs that were not introduced to the basidiospores were acted as the control. M. insperatus introduced with and without basidiospore established 100% of developed combs and 33.33% of developed combs respectively. M. insperatus that succeed in making developed comb had a relatively similar pattern in growth of colony members between those introduced and not introduced with basidiospores, however, they were in contrast to M. insperatus that did not succeed in making developed combs. M. gilvus and O. bogoriensis that were or were not introduced with basidiospore established 0% of the developed comb. The combs were observed for the first time in the 15th week of the rearing period. The fungus in developed combs of M. insperatus introduced to basidiospores and the culture of Termitomyces sp. were in one clade with Termitomyces cylindricus.