A DNA-based system for the identification of Reticulitermes flavipes (Koller) was established based on the following criteria: adequate molecular variation, comprehensive specimen sampling, explicit morphological species identification, and cladistic analysis. Termite soldiers were identified by labral shape, and these specimens and associated pseudergates were used in subsequent molecular analyses. Mitochondrial DNA from the AT-rich region was sequenced for 173 R. flavipes, Reticulitermes hageni Banks and Reticulitermes virginicus (Banks) soldiers and pseudergates collected from several widely dispersed Texan localities. Cladistic analysis was performed after exploration of an optimal sequence alignment inclusive of DNA sequences from Texas and published sequences from Georgia and Canada. Among the Texan individuals, 29, 5, and 1 mitochondrial DNA haplotypes were identified respectively with R. flavipes, R. hageni, and R. virginicus. One haplotype from El Paso likely represented a different Reticulitermes species. Species were monophyletic; however, individual relationships were unresolved in a strict consensus of 700 most parsimonious trees. Texas haplotypes were isolated by distance, and a correlation between genetic and geographic distance was observed among the Texas, Georgia, and Canada haplotypes. These results suggest that the methods outlined in this study will allow for the identification of R. flavipes from localities between Texas and Canada.
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Vol. 97 • No. 1