Phylogenetic relationships of nearctic Reticulitermes species (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae) with particular reference to Reticulitermes arenincola Goellner.Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2004 Mar; 30(3):815-22.MP
DNA sequence comparisons of the mitochondrial COII, 16S, and 12S rRNA genes were used to infer phylogenetic relationships among the six known US Reticulitermes species (Reticulitermes flavipes, Reticulitermes arenincola, Reticulitermes tibialis, Reticulitermes hageni, Reticulitermes virginicus, and Reticulitermes hesperus) and the closely related European species Reticulitermes santonensis. The interspecific pairwise sequence divergence, based on uncorrected "p" distance, varied up to 10% across the COII, 4.9% across the 16S, and 3% across the 12S fragments. Phylogenetic trees were constructed using maximum parsimony, likelihood, and distance methods. The combined results suggest several phylogenetic relationships including: (i) R. flavipes, R. arenincola, and European R. santonensis are possibly conspecific; (ii) R. virginicus and R. hageni are closely related species; and (iii) R. tibialis and R. hesperus are closely related species. Interestingly, while there is apparent synonymity between R. flavipes and R. arenincola by DNA sequence, there are clear morphological differences in the soldier caste. This finding suggests a combination of molecular and morphological approaches are necessary for accurate species identification. These data lend resolution to the complex problem of Reticulitermes systematics, and will assist future efforts directed toward characterizing species distribution and ecology.