DNA-Based Identification of the Eastern Subterranean Termite, Reticulitermes flavipes (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae)

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A DNA-based system for the identification of Reticulitermes flavipes (Koller) was established based on the following criteria: adequate molecular variation, comprehensive specimen sampling, explicit morphological species identification, and cladistic analysis. Termite soldiers were identified by labral shape, and these specimens and associated pseudergates were used in subsequent molecular analyses. Mitochondrial DNA from the AT-rich region was sequenced for 173 R. flavipes, Reticulitermes hageni Banks and Reticulitermes virginicus (Banks) soldiers and pseudergates collected from several widely dispersed Texan localities. Cladistic analysis was performed after exploration of an optimal sequence alignment inclusive of DNA sequences from Texas and published sequences from Georgia and Canada. Among the Texan individuals, 29, 5, and 1 mitochondrial DNA haplotypes were identified respectively with R. flavipes, R. hageni, and R. virginicus. One haplotype from El Paso likely represented a different Reticulitermes species. Species were monophyletic; however, individual relationships were unresolved in a strict consensus of 700 most parsimonious trees. Texas haplotypes were isolated by distance, and a correlation between genetic and geographic distance was observed among the Texas, Georgia, and Canada haplotypes. These results suggest that the methods outlined in this study will allow for the identification of R. flavipes from localities between Texas and Canada.

Keywords: insect; molecular; phylogenetics; taxonomy

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2004

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  • Journal of Economic Entomology is published bimonthly in February, April, June, August, October, and December. The journal publishes articles on the economic significance of insects and is divided into the following sections: apiculture & social insects; arthropods in relation to plant disease; forum; insecticide resistance and resistance management; ecotoxicology; biological and microbial control; ecology and behavior; sampling and biostatistics; household and structural insects; medical entomology; molecular entomology; veterinary entomology; forest entomology; horticultural entomology; field and forage crops, and small grains; stored-product; commodity treatment and quarantine entomology; and plant resistance. In addition to research papers, Journal of Economic Entomology publishes Letters to the Editor, interpretive articles in a Forum section, Short Communications, Rapid Communications, and Book Reviews.
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