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Molecular ecology: Analyses of breeding systems, genetic structure, colony affiliation and population movement patterns of eastern subterranean termite, Reticulitermes flavipes (Kollar) in Nebraska (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae)
The Eastern subterranean termite, Reticulitermes flavipes (Kollar) is the most economic important termite species infesting urban structures in Nebraska. Genetic markers have been widely used to understand the breeding structure and population genetics of subterranean termites. Ten workers from each site were genotyped at seven microsatellite loci. Samples were genotyped on a Beckman Coulter CEQ 8000 Genetic Analysis System using Fragment GenomLab™Analysis Protocol. All seven microsatellites were polymorphic with 1-6 alleles per locus with the frequency of most common allele within 0.11-0.60 which indicated high levels of genetic variability on a local scale. Data from natural populations show 62.5% of the termite colonies are mixed families. We compared the colony breeding system and population genetic structure among twenty infested urban structures across Nebraska. According to our data, 17 out of 20 infested urban structures were simple family colonies. The other three urban structures had mixed family colonies. Positive F CT values indicated all twenty urban structures (10-300 km apart) had termite populations with significant genetic differentiation. Eight colonies, sampled from Wilderness Park, Lincoln, Nebraska from 2009 to 2011, yielded information about colony spatial and genetic structure that cannot be obtained from conventional analyses or sampling methods. The results revealed that several colonies breeding structure changed from simple families to mixed family colony structure. In addition, the studies demonstrated that mixed families can form under natural conditions via the fusion of two or more colonies over time. Based on our data, two separate termite colonies from the same species can act aggressively toward alien conspecific individuals that can lead to colony fusion. To determine if R. flavipes colonies may merge together in different temperature programmable incubators at 15, 20, 23, 25, and 30° C and at room temperature (23°C) in laboratory settings, we performed a laboratory experiment with 3 replicates of pairings of separate R. flavipes colonies for each of the temperature settings. Data were recorded on the nature of interaction between workers and on whether colonies can fuse. Feeding consumption and agonism behavior were also observed for 21 days. Our data showed that under laboratory conditions, two separate colonies can merge together under four different temperature settings. Temperature settings at 15-25° C were the optimum temperatures for the termite to be actively fused and fed. High termite mortality was observed under the temperature setting at 30° C after 21 days of colony pairing.
Ab Majid, Abdul Hafiz, "Molecular ecology: Analyses of breeding systems, genetic structure, colony affiliation and population movement patterns of eastern subterranean termite, Reticulitermes flavipes (Kollar) in Nebraska (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae)" (2012). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3546784.