Look Inside a Termite's
into the microscope visitors see little wiggling shapes of microorganisms
that live inside a termite's gut. Without them, the termite would
die. Termiteslike most other insects and animals can't
digest cellulose, the tough fibrous sugar molecules in wood and
plants. Over a hundred different microbes living in their gut digest
the cellulose for them, providing all the energy the termite needs.
As these microbes break down the cellulose, its stored energy becomes
available to both microbe and termite. The termite gets predigested
food and energy and the microbe get a safe place to live. Without
bacteria many animalssuch as rabbits, porcupines, cows and
elephantswould derive no energy from the plants they eat.