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Termite Fungiculture – Department of Biology - University of Copenhagen

Social Evolution > CSE Research > Termite Fungiculture

Termite Fungiculture

The work in the termite group focuses on host-symbiont interactions and the co-evolutionary histories of fungus-growing termites with fungal and bacterial symbionts. We use a combination of microbiological, phylogenetic, genomic, and metagenomic approaches to explore plant biomass and antibiotic/probiotic roles of symbionts associated with fungus-growing termites. With this work, we hope to better understand how natural selection has shaped and optimized the multipartite collaboration through division of labor within this ancient stable association. If you are interested in collaboration or looking for a project, contact Michael Poulsen.

Model Organisms

Fungus-growing termites
Symbiotic fungi
Pathogenic fungi
Bacterial symbionts


Behavioural experiments
Genetic analyses

Principal Investigator

Michael Thomas-Poulsen

Associate Professor

Close Collaborators

Christine Beemelmanns

Assistant Professor

Leibniz Institute for Natural Product Research and Infection Biology


Duur Aanen

Associate Professor

Laboratory of Genetics

Wageningen University


Victoria L. Challinor

PhD students

Saria Otani

Project title:

Complementary defences in fungus-growing termites

Rafael Rodrigues da Costa

Project title:

Specific adaptations to decomposing plant components in the fungi and gut bacteria associated with fungus-growing termites

Haofu Hu

Master students

Anna Vejlin

Kristine S.K. Pedersen

Ana Maria Barrientos

Kasun Bodawatta

Short documentary showing the basics of our interdisciplinary research project on secondary metabolites from insect-associated microbes