Richness of Lichens Consumed by Constrictotermes cyphergaster in the Semi-arid Region of Brazil

Ana Márcia Barbosa-Silva, Amanda Cosme da Silva, Eugênia Cristina Gonçalves Pereira, Maria de Lourdes Lacerda Buril, Nicácio Henrique da Silva, Marcela Eugenia da Silva Cáceres, André Aptroot, Maria Avany Bezerra-Gusmão


The consumption of lichens by Constrictotermes cyphergaster termites is suggested in the literature, but not yet with concrete evidence. We examined the use and richness of lichens consumed by C. cyphergaster during both the dry and rainy seasons in a semiarid environment in northeastern Brazil by monitoring the foraging of five termite colonies for ten consecutive days during each period. Twenty-nine species of corticolous lichens were consumed by C. cyphergaster, with seasonal variations in the richness of their ingestion. Chrysothrix xanthine, Pertusaria flavens, and Dirinaria confluens were the lichen species most consumed. TLC analyzes of termite gut contents revealed twelve secondary lichen compounds ingested in both seasons, while staining showed fragments of fungal hyphae, green algae, and typical lichen spores. This study represents the first systematic survey of the abundances of lichens that compose the diet of C. cyphergaster and indicates the seasonal selectivity of that resource related to the chemical compositions of the lichen stalks.


Food resources; Nutritional ecology; Foraging; Seasonality; Termites

Full Text:



Bailey, R.H. (1970). Field and study notes: Animals and the dispersal of soredia from Lecanora conizaeoides Nyl. Ex. Cromb. Lichenologist, 4: 256. doi: 10.1017/S002428 2970000294

Barbosa, M.R.V., Lima, I.B., Cunha, J.P., Agra, M.F. & Thomas, W.W. (2007). Vegetação e Flora no Cariri Paraibano. Oecologia Brasiliensis, 11: 313-322.

Bezerra-Gusmão, M.A., Soares, R.K.L., Costa, H.A., Oliveira, M.H., Barbosa-Silva, A.M., Silva, A.K.O., Abad, A.C.A., Mota, R.A. & Pereira, E.C. (2015). Efeito do ácido úsnico sob o desenvolvimento de bactérias simbiontes de Constrictotermes cyphergaster (Insecta; Isoptera). Anais do XXII Encuentro del grupo Latinoamericano de Liquenólogos (GLAL), p. 47

Bignell, D.E. & Eggleton, P. (2000). Termites in ecosystems. In T. Abe, D.E. Bignell & M. Higashi (Eds.), Termites: evolution, sociality, symbioses, ecology (pp. 363-388). Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht.

Boch, S., Prati, D., Werth, S., Rüetschi, J. & Fisher, M. (2011). Lichen endozoochory by snails. Plos One, 6: e18770. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0018770

Boch, S., Prati, Fischer, M. &Prati, D. (2015). To eat or not to eat - relationship of lichen herbivory by snails with secondary compounds and field frequency of lichens. Journal of Plant Ecology, 8: 642-650. doi:10.1093/jpe/rtv005

Bordereau, C. & Pasteels, J. M. (2011). Pheromones and chemical ecology of dispersal and for aging in termites. In E. D. Bignell, Y. Roisin & N. Lo (Eds.), Biology of termites: A modern synthesis (pp. 279-320). Dordrecht: Springer.

Bourguignon, T.,Šobotník, J., Lepoint, G., Martin, J.M., Hardy, O.J., Dejean, A. & Roisin, Y. (2011). Feeding ecology and phylogenetic structure of a complex Neotropical termite assemblage, revealed by nitrogen stable isotopes ratios. Ecological Entomology, 36: 261-269. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2311.2011.01265.x

Bustinza, F. (1950). Contribución al estudio de laspropiedades antibacterianas de la bacitracina. Anales Del Jardín Botánico de Madrid, p. 583-590.

Cáceres, M.E.S. (2007). Corticolous crustose and microfoliose lichens of northeastern Brazil. Libri Botanici, 168 p

Cáceres, M.E.S., Lucking, R. & Rambold, G. (2008). Corticolous microlichens in Northeastern Brazil: habitat differentiation between coastal Mata Atlântica, Caatinga and Brejos de Altitude. Bryologist, 111: 98-117. doi: 10.1639/0007-2745 (2008) 111 [98:CMINBH]2.0.CO;2

Chaves, L.H.G., Chaves, I.B. & Vasconcelos, A.C.F. (2000). Salinidade das águas superficiais e suas relações com a natureza dos solos na Bacia Escola do açude Namorados. Campina Grande: BNB/UFPB. Boletim Técnico. 54p.

Collins, N.M. (1979). Observations on the foraging activity of Hospitalitermes umbrinus (Haviland), (Isoptera: Termitidae) in the Gunong Mulu National Park, Sarawak. Ecological Entomogy, 4: 231-238. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2311.1979.tb00580.x

Cullberson, C.F. (1972). Improved conditions and new data for the identification of lichen products by a standardized thinlayer-chromatographic method. Journal of Chromatography A, 72: 113-125. doi:10.1016/0021-9673(72)80013-X

Dixon, R.A. & Paiva, N.L. (2005). Stress-induced phenylpropanoid metabolism. Plant Cell, 7: 1085-1097. doi: 10.1105/tpc.7.7.108

Donovan, S.E., Eggleton, P. & Bignell, D.E. (2001). Gut content analysis and a new feeding group classification of termites. Ecological Entomology, 26: 356-366. doi: 10.1046/ j.1365-2311.2001.00342.x

Edwards, R. & Mill, A.E. (1986). Termites in buildings: their biology and control. Rentokil Limited: England, 261p

Fröberg, L., Berg, C.O., Baur, A. & Baur, B. (2001). Viability of lichen photobionts after passing through the digestive tract of a land snail. Lichenologist, 33: 543-550. doi: 10.1006/lich.2001.0355

Gauslaa, Y., Bidussi, M., Solhaug, K.A., Asplund, J. & Larsson, P. Seasonal and spatial variation in carbon based secondary compounds in green algal and cyanobacterial members of the epiphytic lichen genus Lobaria. Phytochemistry, 94: 91-98. doi: 10.1016/j.phytochem.2013.04.003

Gerson, U. & Seaward, M.R.D. (1977). Lichen-invertebrate associations. In: M.R.D. Seaward (Ed.), Lichen ecology (pp. 69-119). Academic Press, London.

Ghorbanli, M., Tehran, T.A. & Niyakan, M. (2012). Seasonal changes in antioxidant activity, flavonoid, anthocyanin and phenolic compounds in Flavoparmelia caperata (L.) Hale and Physciadubia (Hoffm.) Lettau from Babol forest sites in north of Iran. Iranian Journal of Plant Physiology, 2: 461-469. doi: 10.22034/IJPP.2012.540781

Governo do estado da Paraíba (1985). Atlas geográfico da Paraíba. João Pessoa: Grafset, 100 p

Hesbacher, S., Giez, I., Embacher, G., Fiedler, K., Max, W., Trawöger, A., Türk, R., Lange, O.L. & Proksch, P. (1995). Sequestration of lichen compounds by lichen-feeding members of the Arctiidae (Lepidoptera). Journal of Chemical Ecology, 21: 2079-2089. doi: 10.1007/BF02033864.

Honda, N.K. (2012). Substâncias Fenólicas de liquens - Isolamento, identificação e modificações estruturais. In E.C. Pereira, F.O.M. Filho, M.C.B. Martins, M.L.L. Buril & B.R.M. Rodrigues (Eds.), A liquenologia brasileira no início do século XXI (pp. 35-40). CCS Gráfica e Editora. Camaragibe, PE.

Lawrey, J.D. (1980). Correlations between lichen secondary chemistry and grazing activity by Palliferavaria. Bryologist, 83: 328-334. doi: 10.2307/3242442

Lee, K.E. & Wood, T.G. (1971). Termites and Soils. London (Academic Press), 251 p

Lo, N. & Eggleton, P. (2011). Termite Phylogenetics and Co-cladogenesis with Symbionts. In D.E. Bignell, Y. Roisin & N. Lo (Eds.), Biology of Termites: A Modern Synthesis (pp. 27-50). Springer Dordrecht Heidelberg London New York.

Lücking, R. & Rivas-Plata, E. (2008). Clave y Guía Ilustrada Para Géneros de Graphidaceae Glalia, 39 p

Manojlović, N.T., Solujic, S., Sukdolak, S. & Milosev, M. (2005). Antifungal activity of Rubia tinctorum, Rhamnus frangula and Caloplaca cerina. Fitoterapia, 6: 244-246. doi: 10.1016/j.fitote.2004.12.002

Marbach, B. (2000). Corticole und lignicole Arten der Flechtengattung Buellia sensu lato in den Subtropen und Tropen. Bibliotheca Lichenologica, 384 p

Martius, C., Amelung, W. & Garcia, M.V.B. (2000). The amazo-nian forest termite (Isoptera: Termitidae) (Constrictotermes cavifrons) feeds on microepiphytes. Sociobiology, 35: 379-383.

Mathews, A.G.A. (1977). Studies on termites from the Mato Grosso State, Brazil. Academia Brasileira de Ciências. Rio de Janeiro, 267 p

Menezes, A.A., Leite, A.B.X., Otsuka, A.Y., Jesus, L.S. & Cáceres, M.E.S. (2011). Novas ocorrências de liquens corticícolas crostosos e microfoliosos em vegetação de Caatinga no semi-árido de Alagoas. Acta Botanica Brasilica, 25: 885-889. doi: 10.1590/S0102-33062011000400015

Miura, T. & Matsumoto, T. (1997). Diet and nest material of the processional termite Hospitalitermes, and cohabitation of Termes (Isoptera, Termitidae) on Borneo Island. Insectes Sociaux, 44: 267-275. doi: 10.1007/s000400050047

Miura, T. & Matsumoto, T. (1998). Foraging organization of the open-air processional lichen feeding termite Hospitalitermes (Isoptera, Termitidae) in Borneo. Insectes Sociaux, 45: 17-32. doi:10.1007/s000400050065

Moura, F.M.S., Vasconcellos, A., Araújo, V.F.P. & Bandeira, A.G. (2006). Feeding Habit of Constrictotermes cyphergaster (Isoptera, Termitidae) in an Área of Caatinga, Northeast Brazil. Sociobiology, 48: 1-6.

Nash, T.H. (2008). Lichen Biology. Cambridge: University Press, 498p

Plitt, C.C. (1934). A Lichen-Eating Snail. The Bryologist, 37: 102-104. American Bryological and Lichenological Society.

Rambold, G., Davydov, E., Elix, J.A., Nash, III T.H, Scheidegger, C.H. & Zedda, L. (2001). LIAS light - A Database for Rapid Identification of Lichens.

Ribeiro, S.M., Pereira, E.C., Silva, N.H., Falcão, E.P., Gusmão, N.B., Honda, N.K. & Quilhot, W. (2002). Detection of antibacterial activity of lichen substances through microdiluition tests. In S. Calvelo & T. Feuere (Eds.), Lichenology in Latin American II (pp. 187-194). Hamburg, Alemanha.

Richardson, D.H.S. & Young, C.M. (1977). Lichens and vertebrates. In M.R.D. Seaward (Ed.), Lichen ecology (pp. 121-14). Academic Press, London.

Roisin, Y. & Pasteels, J.M. (1996). The Nasute Termites (Isoptera: Nasutitermitinae) of Papua New Guinea. Invertebrate Systematics, 10: 507-616. doi: 10.1071/IT9960507

Sampaio, E.V.B. (1995). Overview of the Brazilian caatinga. In: S.H. Bullock, H.A. Mooney & E. Medina (Eds.), Seasonally Dry Tropical Forests (pp.35-63). Cambridge University Press. doi: 10.1017/CBO9780511753398.003

Silva, A.P.N., Moura, G.B.A., Giongo, P.R. & Silva, A.O. (2009). Dinâmica espaço temporal da vegetação no Semiárido de Pernambuco. Revista Caatinga, 22: 195-205.

Tay, T., Türk, A.O., Yilmaz, M., Türk, H. & Kivanç, M. (2004). Evaluation of the Antimicrobial Activity of the Acetone Extract of the Lichen Ramalina farinacea and its (+)-Usnic Acid, Norstictic Acid, and Protocetraric Acid Constituents. Verlag der Zeitschriftfür Naturforschung, 59: 384-388.

Wood, T.G. (1978). Food and feeding habits of termites. In: M.V. Brian (ed), Production ecology of ants and termites (pp. 55-80). Cambridge University.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

JCR Impact Factor 2018: 0.604