Established evidence supports the use of cuticular hydrocarbons as taxonomic tools, and this study seeks to explore the application of hydrocarbon characters for a phylogenetic study of Texas harvester ants (Pogonomyrmex spp.). Following the method for the recovery of the cuticular hydrocarbons via rinsing in a solvent, cuticular components were collected by immersing foraging workers in hexane and the residual extract identified by mass spectral fragmentation patterns. Phylogenetic analysis, based on the relative proportions of recovered hydrocarbons derived from hexane ant extracts was conducted with Phylogenetic Analyzing Using Parsimony (PAUP) software. Using a data set of hydrocarbon characters from several taxa, the PAUP algorithm was employed to find the most parsimonious tree for each analysis. Since few criteria exist to discriminate sibling species, chemically derived characters may prove valuable in taxonomic studies. However, no one character is sufficient in distinguishing closely related organisms. Thus, chemotaxonomic characters should be considered with morphological characters to yield possible insight for phylogenetics. The result of this study also establishes chemical profiles of the cuticular hydrocarbons of Texas Pogonomyrmex species.
Species 1: Hymenoptera Formicidae Pogonomyrmex barbatus
Species 2: Hymenoptera Formicidae Pogonomyrmex comanche
Species 3: Hymenoptera Formicidae Pogonomyrmex desertorum
Keywords: chemotaxonomy, hydrocarbon
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