Termites are one of the most serious wood-destroying pests in the United States, causing millions of dollars in damage each year. The cryptic nature of subterranean termites has posed a serious problem for researchers desiring to study their biology and ecology. This research, though, is imperative in order to further develop effective control methods. Some of the more innovative techniques for gathering data on termites have come in the form of molecular tools, including the use of allozymes and mitochondrial DNA.
In this study, we estimate intercolony and intracolony relatedness in the Eastern subterranean termite using microsatellite markers. From this data, measurements of possible intercolony gene flow via secondary reproductives will be evaluated. We hypothesize that average relatedness is high among individuals within colonies and similar to the founding reproductives. Between colonies, average relatedness may vary as a result of differing colony founding styles; whether via alate flight dispersal mechanisms or via subterranean budding phenomena. Data gathered from these studies, might reveal the possibility of intercolony gene exchange by way of secondary reproductives. If evidence supports this hypothesis, then theories surrounding termite colony structure, reproductive dynamics, and gene flow must be revisited.
Species 1: Isoptera Rhinotermitidae Reticulitermes flavipes (eastern subterranean termite)
Keywords: DNA, microsatellites
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