Yuichi Hongoh
Yuichi Hongoh

Professor, Department of Biological Sciences
PhD 2000, The University of Tokyo
E-mail: yhongo(at)bio.titech.ac.jp
Office: Room 706, W3 building, Ookayama campus

Areas of Research: Microbial Ecology, Environmental Genomics.

Keywords: symbiosis, termite, gut bacteria, single-cell genomics.

Research interest:

 We focus on the termite gut ecosystem as an example of complex symbiotic systems found in various environments. Termites are social insects that feed only on dead plant matter and are notorious as destructive pests of woody buildings. Their ability to efficiently degrade the recalcitrant lignocellulose is, however, not attributable to their own, but mostly to the activities of the symbiotic gut microbiota.


 The termite gut microbiota has been extensively studied for both basic and applied interests such as the evolution and ecology of the multi-layered symbiotic system, development of novel biofuel, and pest control. However, because the majority of the gut microorganisms are unculturable, the functions of individual microbial species and their interrelationships are mostly unknown. Our research team uses culture-independent methods, including single-cell genomics, to decipher this complicated symbiotic system.

Selected publications

  1. Kuwahara H., Yuki M., Izawa K., Ohkuma M., Hongoh Y. Genome of ‘Ca. Desulfovibrio trichonymphae’ in a tripartite symbiotic system within a protist cell in the termite gut. ISME J. in press (2016)
  2. Zheng H., Dietrich C., Hongoh Y., Brune A. Restriction-modification systems as mobile genetic elements in the evolution of an intracellular symbiont. Mol. Biol. Evol. 33, 721-725 (2016)
  3. Ohkuma M., Noda S., Hattori S., Iida T., Yuki M., Starns D. Inoue J., Darby A.C., Hongoh Y. Acetogenesis from H2 plus CO2 and nitrogen fixation by an endosymbiotic spirochete of a termite-gut cellulolytic protist. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 112, 10224-10230 (2015)
  4. Murakami T., Segawa T., Bodington D., Dial R., Takeuchi N., Kohshima S., Hongoh Y. Census of bacterial microbiota associated with the glacier ice worm Mesenchytraeus solifugus. FEMS Microbiol. Ecol. fiv003 (2015)
  5. Yuki M., Kuwahara H., Shintani M., Izawa K., Sato T., Starns D., Hongoh Y., Ohkuma M. Dominant ectosymbiotic bacteria of cellulolytic protists in the termite gut also have the potential to digest lignocellulose. Environ. Microbiol. 17, 4942-4953 (2015)
  6. Sato T., Kuwahara H., Fujita K., Noda S., Kihara K., Yamada A., Ohkuma M., Hongoh Y. Intranuclear verrucomicrobial symbionts and evidence of lateral gene transfer to the host protist in the termite gut. ISME. J. 8, 1008-1019 (2014)
  7. Guichard P., Hachet V., Majubu N., Neves A., Demurtas D., Olieric N., Fluckiger I., Yamada A., Kihara K., Nishida Y., Moriya S., Steinmentz M.O., Hongoh Y., Gönczy P. Native architecture of the centriole proximal region reveals novel features underlying their 9-fold radial symmetry. Curr. Biol. 23, 1620-1628 (2013)
  8. Hongoh Y. Toward the functional analysis of uncultivable, symbiotic microorganisms in the termite gut. Cell. Mol. Life Sci. 68, 1311-25 (2011)
  9. Hongoh Y., Sharma V.K., Prakash T., Noda S., Toh H., Taylor T.D., Kudo T., Sakaki Y., Toyoda A., Hattori M., Ohkuma M. Genome of an endosymbiont coupling N2 fixation to cellulolysis within protist cells in termite gut. Science 322, 1108-1109 (2008)
  10. Hongoh Y., Sharma V.K., Prakash T., Noda S., Taylor T.D, Kudo T., Sakaki Y., Toyoda A., Hattori M., Ohkuma M. Complete genome of the uncultured Termite Group 1 bacteria in a single host protist cell. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 105, 5555-5560 (2008)

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