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Termites and Protozoa Discovered Together in 100 Million-year-old Amber

The analysis of a termite entombed for 100 million years in an ancient piece of amber has revealed the oldest example of "mutualism" ever discovered between an animal and microorganism, and also shows the unusual biology that helped make this one of the most successful, although frequently despised insect groups in the world.

When the termite's abdomen was dissected, out spilled a range of protozoa, which even then were providing a key function for the termite ā€“ they helped it to digest wood. Between animals and microorganisms, this is the earliest example ever discovered of "mutualism," which is one type of symbiotic relationship in which two species help each other.
 
 

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