These Termites Turn Your House into a Palace of Poop | Deep Look

These Termites Turn Your House into a Palace of Poop | Deep Look


That lump on the side of this tree in the
Amazon? It’s packed with termites. In the rainforest, that’s a good thing. They break down wood into stuff other creatures
can eat. But inside our homes, termites are pests. They cost us billions of dollars of damage
every year. Take these dampwood termites that live on
the cool California coast. They eat wood that’s wet or decayed, maybe
from a leak in your house. Slowly, but surely, they gnaw and scrape away. What comes out the other end isn’t waste. It serves as a kind of mortar. And dried poop pellets make perfect building
blocks for their nests. In other words, they’re turning your house
into theirs. What’s amazing is that they can digest wood, which is so hard, and get nutrients out of it. We certainly can’t do that. Termites are one of the only animals that
can. It turns out they don’t do this alone. Researchers are looking inside termites to
figure out who’s actually responsible for this feat. At the Exploratorium, in San Francisco, museum
biologists give the insect a little puff of carbon dioxide. When it’s nice and relaxed, the termite
poops itself. Under the microscope, multitudes appear. Hundreds of species of microbes live packed
inside a termite’s gut, about one one-thousandth of a teaspoon. This big one is called Trichonympha. It’s not an animal, plant or fungus. It’s a protist. Watch it move with the help of its flagella. Protists like Trichonympha are essential for
termites to turn the wood into a source of energy. They do this by fermenting the wood, much
the same way a brewer turns grain into beer. Something else is hidden deep in the termite’s
gut: a powerful bacterium that combines nitrogen from the air and calories from the wood to
make protein. That’s like turning a potato into a steak. Termites can’t live without their microbes. And many of these microbes can’t live outside
the termite. So what if we used the microbes against their
hosts? Right now, when we want to get rid of termites,
we fumigate our houses with poison. But maybe we could just kill the protists
instead. Louisiana State University entomologists are
engineering a gut bacterium to kill gut protists. They’d sneak the bacteria into the termite
colony on something the termites would eat. The bacteria would kill the protists that
help the termites digest wood, leaving them surrounded by food but starving. Hi there. It’s Amy. One other thing about termites and their microbes:
termites aren’t born with them. Adults feed babies a kind of starter kit when
they’re little, the same way human moms give their babies good microbes in their breast
milk. Thanks for watching. And while you’re here, subscribe.

100 thoughts on “These Termites Turn Your House into a Palace of Poop | Deep Look”

  1. They are from outer space and they are awesome πŸ‘½πŸ‘½πŸ‘½πŸ‘½πŸœπŸœπŸœπŸœπŸœπŸœπŸœπŸœπŸœπŸœπŸœπŸœπŸ‘½πŸ‘½πŸ‘½πŸ‘½πŸ‘½πŸœπŸœπŸœπŸœπŸœπŸ‘½πŸ‘½πŸ™

  2. YOU! WHOEVER IS ENGINEERING THIS TORTUROUS DEATH TO THIS CREATURE YOU ARE VILE EVIL REPLUSIVE AND MENTALLY ILL! YOU ARE NOT A SCIENTIST YOU ARE DISGUSTING! "SURROUNDED BY FOOD YET STARVE" NO ONE OR THING DESERVES THAT DEATH!!!

  3. I am allergic to dust mites but since I have protected my mattress with a good dust mites ProTech allergies cover, I have no more symptoms. They can be ordered on www.protechallergies.com

  4. ”yeah, they are incredibly interesting.right?…I mean it’s not like they’re PeStS”

  5. 1:42 … that poop sound effects ….. omg 😲
    Too much hilarious
    πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

  6. YAY I DON'T LIVE THERE BUT I VISITED AND STEPPED ON A LOT OF THEM SADLY AND MEH DOG LEGIT THREW IT ON DA FENCE WHEN HE WAS DIGGING SADLY I HAVE 5 DOGS -_-

  7. But what if goes out of control like their habitat almost to extinction how about carnivorous house pest but small that needs the safety of our homes

  8. You're a psychopath amy. You're sounding so peaceful and serene when you're describing about starving those termites.

  9. maybe we could use the termite's biome to produce material instead of killing them.
    but hey at least the choose a way of killing them, that’s less harmful to the environment.

  10. What if some of the bacteria you infest the house with, in order to kill the Termites, interacts with the bacteria within the people in the house and actually get them killed from the guts? You know just how easily bacteria evolve and adapt in order to survive.
    Another, much happier outcome, would be that the bacteria could actually do that and become part of our microbiome, so we can develop the ability to be NATURAL INSETICIDES and "clean out" our own close environment… I suppose It should be already happening, to some extent? Peace.

  11. Ok, i dont like poison . But i feel like its a much safer way to kill termites . Think about what if that bacteria spreads by some reason we cant predict . Better killing hives than playing god with their whole spiecies …
    Anyone feels the same ?

  12. 1:18 termites are insects not animals. One another thing they are showing a pest control add just below the video after making me feel worried …

  13. sounds like a another attempt of using nature to combat nature – albeit this is three years later, but paul stamets developed a fungus to repel termite colonies in the home – if there is any chance that it is commercially available could you do a video on it, please?

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