Comparative Study of the Breeding Systems of Reticulitermes flavipes and Reticulitermes hageni in a North Carolina Coastal Plain Site using Microsatellite Markers and mtDNA Sequence Data.

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Title: Comparative Study of the Breeding Systems of Reticulitermes flavipes and Reticulitermes hageni in a North Carolina Coastal Plain Site using Microsatellite Markers and mtDNA Sequence Data.
Author: Dalton, Hope Anne
Advisors: Edward L. Vargo, Committee Chair
Coby Schal, Committee Member
Jenny Xiang, Committee Member
Abstract: The termites (Isoptera) are an important group of eusocial insects whose breeding systems have been relatively poorly studied. In this study, we inferred the breeding systems of two sympatric species of Reticulitermes flavipes (Kollar) and R. hageni Banks by investigating colony and population genetic structure using microsatellite and mitochondrial DNA markers. Termites were collected in natural wood debris along two transects 1 km apart in a forested site in the Coastal Plain of southeastern North Carolina. Collection points within transects were at least 15 m apart (mean = 22.4 m) and each collection point was found to be a separate colony based on microsatellite genotypes. Of the total colonies collected, eight colonies were identified as R. flavipes, 28 were R. hageni and two colonies were identified as R. virginicus. A total of 720 workers from 36 collection points were genotyped at 5-8 microsatellite loci and the mtDNA haplotype was determined for two individuals from each collection point at the cytochrome oxidase II gene. Genetic analysis of family structure and comparisons of F-statistics (FIT, FIC and FCT) and the coefficient of relatedness (r) were compared with computer-simulated values revealing very similar breeding systems between the two species. Analysis using F-statistics compared with computer simulated breeding systems (Thorne et al. 1999 and Bulmer et al. 2001) suggested that nearly 90% of the colonies of both species were simple families headed by inbred monogamous pairs of reproductives while the remaining colonies were extended (inbred) families headed by low numbers of reproductives that were descendants of the founding pair, possibly their direct offspring. There was no evidence of genetic differences between transects based on microsatellite data for R. flavipes (FST = 0.044, 95% confidence interval (CI) = -0.011 to 0.104) and evidence for a genetic difference between R. hageni transects (FST = 0.070, 95% CI = 0.025 to 0.108). This suggests a lack of budding and that mating flight dispersal is not limited over the study distance. These results indicate that within the study area R. flavipes and R. hageni have very similar breeding systems characterized by monogamous pairs of reproductives headed by slightly inbred reproductives and that few of these live long enough to produce more than a few neotenics. Results using mtDNA sequence data show two clades for each of the two species, R. flavipes and R. hageni. When comparing clades using microsatellite data, no significant difference between the clades was found for R. hageni, but a significant difference was found between clades for R. flavipes.
Date: 2006-04-28
Degree: MS
Discipline: Entomology
URI: http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/resolver/1840.16/271


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