Successful generation of comprehensive gene catalogs for three termite species

Research Press Release | December 05, 2013

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Press Release
Key Points

・The gene sequences of three species of termites found in Japan have been comprehensively sequenced.

・Analysis of the gene sequence data has led to the discovery of many unknown genes.

・The obtained data also suggests that the DNA methylation occurs in many termite genes.

・The large-scale gene sequence data obtained in this study dose not only contribute to basic researches in termite genetics, evolution, and ecology, but also to applied study areas such as pest-control.


Termites are not only pests that cause enormous damage to houses, but they also possess numerous fascinating biological characteristics such as sociality and so on. However, almost nothing was previously known concerning what sort of genes they possess in their genomes.

In this study, we successfully used a new device called a next-generation DNA sequencer (large-scale base sequence analyzer) to produce a comprehensive data of the gene sequences expressed in the damp-wood termite Hodotermopsis sjostedti, the subterranean termite Reticulitermes speratus, and the nasute termite Nasutitermes takasagoensis. The obtained sequence information was analyzed by using a powerful computer system, and numerous genes were identified which were previously unknown.

We also found that dmnt1, an essential gene for the DNA methylation (see note below), was present in all three species of termites, and that many genes exhibited characteristic features for the DNA methylation. The gene sequence data obtained in this study is expected to contribute to the development of range of basic and applied studies.

Note: A chemical modification added to DNA sequences, regarded as a marker for the regulations of gene expression levels.


Toru Miura, Associate Professor, Graduate School of Environmental Earth Science, Hokkaido University

TEL & FAX: +81-11-706-4524


Laboratory of Ecological Developmental Biology


Publications PLos One (2013.9.30)