Jan 20, 2019 | Updated: 08:39 AM EST

Wood Beetles Like Termites Are Recyclers Of Nature WIth Some Help From Fungi

May 24, 2017 05:58 AM EDT


Wood beetles like termites are known to be pests as they cause damage to most of the residential properties. However, they have a task that actually helps humans in a long term run: by helping the humanity decompose dead trees. Decomposition, in this case, is a necessary process as it would ensure that people would not be buried under the huge mass of dead organic matter produced every year produced by wood-based materials.

In an article published in The Conversation, wood beetles are among the world's best decomposers. They are described as organisms that digest dead matter and make their own living cells and tissues that were out of acquired atoms.

The vast majority of organic matter that was produced worldwide annually is stored in wood, which is considered tough as it is hard to digest and decompose. Dead woods, which is consumed by wood beetles, is rich in sugars like cellulose, hemicelluloses, and lignin.

In an article published by Phys.org, digested wood might be a source of energy but it is insufficiently nutritious for other organisms depending their development on dead wood like flies, moths, and bacteria. Still, wood beetles are able to survive and develop with this considered low-quality food source.

But how could these wood beetles develop from dead wood? The answer is fungi.

In the first few years of decay of a dead wood, its nutritional composition is slowly changed by fungi. With the help of fungi, the fungal tissues start growing inside of dead wood and are connected to nutritionally-rich areas outside the wood. With this, it helps the wood beetles to get all the nutritional values of the wood.

But how exactly did it help the environment through recycling? The wood beetles affect the wood, fragmenting, and shredding it that it produces "frass" -- wood pieces mixed with excrement that may be decomposed by microorganisms.

With that, these wood beetles like termites are actually helping in contributing wood decomposition and nutrient cycling. It's the way of nature to recycle itself.

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