Morphology and phylogeny of Reticulitermes sp. (Isoptera, Rhinotermitidae) from Cyprus.Bull Entomol Res. 2012 Dec; 102(6):672-81.BE
Taxonomy and phylogeny of termites of the genus Reticulitermes in central and eastern Mediterranean lands are poorly understood, partly due to insufficient sampling. This study aims to contribute to the knowledge of east Mediterranean termites by presenting morphological and molecular data on Reticulitermes from Cyprus. Samples from 15 colonies were collected throughout the island. Qualitative and quantitative morphological characters were analyzed for alate and soldier castes. Partial sequences of the mitochondrial genes COII and 16S were used to evaluate genetic diversity of Cypriot colonies and to determine their phylogenetic relationships with taxa from central and eastern Mediterranean areas. Cypriot alates have some morphological features in common with the Israeli R. clypeatus: an enlarged postclypeus and a wide unpigmented margin of the eye. They are larger than R. clypeatus but smaller than western European species, such as R. banyulensis, R. lucifugus corsicus and R. grassei. For Cypriot soldiers, two size groups were identified, possibly in relation with the age of their mother colonies. Phylogenetic analysis shows that, contrary to what might be expected, the samples with the highest affinity with Cypriot samples are not those from the nearby mainland (south Turkey, Israel), but from north-eastern Greece. Comprehensive sampling in the nearby mainland is lacking, so the possibility that populations exist it that region with an affinity towards Cypriot Reticulitermes sp. cannot be ruled out. Together with samples from the Halkidiki peninsula, north-eastern Greece, northern Turkey and Crete, Cypriot Reticulitermes form a well-supported north-eastern Mediterranean clade.