An interesting case of polystyrene consumption by Reticulitermes lucifugus (Blattodea: Neoisoptera, Rhinotermitidae)
A colony of Reticulitermes lucifugus from Apulia (SE Italian Peninsula) was recently observed to have partially consumed some polystyrene panels applied on a wall, and used like seat for termite nest. Further observations could allow to better understand if this colony is just able to physically consume and chew this plastic material, releasing it chemically intact after the passage throughout the termites’ digestive system, or if their microbiome could allow the insects to at least partially metabolize and degrade the ingested polystyrene fragments, as recently observed in a few other insects.
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