Phylogeography of an Australian termite, Amitermes laurensis (Isoptera, Termitidae), with special reference to the variety of mound shapes.Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2007 Jan; 42(1):236-47.MP
In northern Australia, the debris-feeding termite Amitermes laurensis builds tall, wedge-shaped mounds in the northern part of Cape York Peninsula and Arnhem Land, where their habitats are seasonally flooded, and small dome shaped mounds in the southeastern part of Cape York Peninsula, where their habitats are well-drained. Phylogeographic analyses were conducted in 238 individuals from 30 populations using the mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase II (COII) gene. DNA sequences of 50 haplotypes were used to construct NJ, MP and ML trees. Phylogenetic trees for 16 Amitermes species showed monophyly of A. laurensis and the variation of A. laurensis mounds did not strongly correspond to the intraspecific phylogeny. It was observed that mounds with the same shape were constructed by phylogenetically different groups under similar environmental conditions and different mounds shapes were built by phylogenetically closely related groups under the different environmental conditions. Thus, phylogenetically close groups of A. laurensis, in different habitats, may adapt to environmental conditions by constructing different mound shapes. We also investigated the phylogeographic structure of A. laurensis. The significant positive correlation between genetic and geographic distances indicated isolation by distance, reflecting restricted dispersal ability of alates. Although the overall genetic structure of A. laurensis showed isolation by distance, we also identified two exceptions: (i) secondary contacts of genetically divergent lineages in southern Cape York Peninsula, and (ii) low genetic differences between geographically separated populations of Cape York Peninsula and Arnhem Land. Therefore, the phylogeography of A. laurensis may reflect continuous gene flow restricted to short distances and past changes of gene flow associated with the fluctuation of environmental conditions accompanying the changing sea levels in the Quaternary.