Monday, December 11, 2006 - 8:59 AM

Analysis of the breeding systems of two populations of the subterranean termite, Reticulitermes flavipes, in the southern United States

Bernardo Niņo, and Edward L. Vargo, North Carolina State University, Department of Entomology, Campus Box 7613, 2301 Gardner Hall, Raleigh, NC

Colonies of subterranean termites are known to exhibit a wide array of breeding structures. These may vary from simple families headed by a single pair of primary reproductives to inbred extended families containing numerous secondary reproductives to mixed families headed by unrelated same-sex reproductives. Studies by our lab and others have characterized colony breeding structure of the eastern subterranean termite, Reticulitermes flavipes, in several populations in the middle and northern portions of its range along the eastern seaboard of the U.S., where most colonies are simple families but there is strong latitudinal variation with the proportion of simple families decreasing in northern populations. In this study, we expanded these investigations further south and west to populations in Florida and Mississippi. We used microsatellite markers to infer colony breeding structure and population genetic structure. We genotyped 20 workers in each of 20-30 colonies per population at eight microsatellite loci. We conducted pedigree analysis on the worker genotypes to determine the proportions of colonies that were simple families, extended families or mixed families. We also estimated the coefficient of relatedness and F-statistics and compared these values to those based on computer simulations of different breeding systems to infer levels of inbreeding and numbers of reproductives within colonies. We will report on the current status of this ongoing research, including comparisons to previously studied populations in this and other species.

Species 1: Isoptera Rhinotermitidae Reticulitermes flavipes (eastern subterranean termite)

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