Population Genetics of the Eastern Subterranean Termite, Reticulitermes flavipes, in the Southern Appalachian Mountains

Passarella, Lee Ann (2018) Population Genetics of the Eastern Subterranean Termite, Reticulitermes flavipes, in the Southern Appalachian Mountains. Undergraduate thesis, under the direction of Ryan Garrick from Biology, University of Mississippi.

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As an area rich in biodiversity, the Appalachian Mountains are an ideal place for biological research. The pronounced impacts of Pleistocene climatic cycles on forest distributions over time have shaped the evolutionary history of animals that depend on these habitats, underpinning the research that is presented here. The present study on the eastern subterranean termite, Reticulitermes flavipes, was conducted to better understand the spatial distribution of genetic diversity within and among populations of this species in the context of the aforementioned historical climatic changes in the southern Appalachian Mountain region. I hypothesized that there would be geographically localized, distinct genetic groups due to the limited dispersal ability of R. flavipes, coupled with the long history of repeated habitat fragmentation during the Last Glacial Maximum and earlier. This study used termite samples collected throughout the southern Appalachians and extracting their DNA. Next, mitochondrial gene regions, cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COI) and cytochrome c oxidase subunit II (COII), and the nuclear gene region, nuclear endo-beta-1,4-glucanase (EB14G), were amplified using polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Gel electrophoresis was then used to confirm amplification success, and PCR products were sequenced at an external sequencing facility. After editing and aligning those sequences, a phylogenetic tree was estimated from the mitochondrial data, and natural genetic groups were identified and mapped according to the spatial data associated with them. The phylogenetic tree supported four distinct monophyletic groups, all of which were spatially clustered together in geographic space (i.e., there was phylogeographic structure). To determine if patterns of phylogeographic structure identified here truly reflect the history of the species as a whole, R. flavipes individuals in areas that were not well represented in the present study, along with the amplification and screening of nuclear loci will be necessary.

Item Type: Thesis (Undergraduate)
Creators: Passarella, Lee Ann
Student's Degree Program(s): B.B.A. in Management
Thesis Advisor: Ryan Garrick
Thesis Advisor's Department: Biology
Institution: University of Mississippi
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH426 Genetics
Depositing User: Lee Passarella
Date Deposited: 16 May 2019 20:32
Last Modified: 16 May 2019 20:32
URI: http://thesis.honors.olemiss.edu/id/eprint/1572

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