Invertebrate Systematics Invertebrate Systematics Society
Systematics, phylogeny and biogeography
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Mitochondrial and chemical profiles reveal a new genus and species of Neotropical termite with snapping soldiers, Palmitermes impostor (Termitidae : Termitinae)

Simon Hellemans A F , Thomas Bourguignon B C D , Pavlína Kyjaková E , Robert Hanus E and Yves Roisin A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Evolutionary Biology & Ecology, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Avenue F.D. Roosevelt 50, CP 160/12, B-1050 Brussels, Belgium.

B School of Biological Sciences, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia.

C Faculty of Forestry and Wood Sciences, Czech University of Life Sciences, Kamýcká 129, CZ-165 00, Prague 6 - Suchdol, Czech Republic.

D Okinawa Institute of Science & Technology Graduate University, 1919-1 Tancha, Onna-son, Okinawa 904-0495, Japan.

E Chemistry of Social Insects, Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry, Czech Academy of Sciences, Flemingovo n. 2, CZ-166 10, Prague 6, Czech Republic.

F Corresponding author. Email: simon.hellemans@ulb.ac.be

Invertebrate Systematics 31(4) 394-405 https://doi.org/10.1071/IS16089
Submitted: 22 December 2016  Accepted: 10 March 2017   Published: 6 June 2017

Abstract

Since the inception of Linnaean taxonomy, termite species and genus descriptions have been mostly based on the morphology of soldiers, sometimes complemented by alate characters, though these are seldom discriminant. However, narrowly soldier-based descriptions may overemphasise ancestral characters and lead to the establishment of non-monophyletic taxa. In this paper, we used an integrative taxonomic approach that incorporates the morphology of all castes, including workers, as well as molecular and chemical data, to describe Palmitermes impostor Hellemans & Roisin, 2017 (Termitidae : Termitinae), a new termite genus and species from French Guiana. Although the soldiers of P. impostor resemble those of Termes Linnaeus, 1758, the digestive tract and mandibles of workers suggest that Palmitermes is closely related to Cavitermes Emerson, 1925. The sister-group relationship between Palmitermes and Cavitermes was confirmed by a phylogenetic reconstruction based on full mitochondrial genome sequences as well as by the comparison of the profiles of cuticular hydrocarbons of workers with those of related taxa. Our study illustrates the benefits of using an integrative taxonomic approach to describe new taxa and the pitfalls of using soldier morphology as the exclusive set of characters in termite systematics.

Additional keywords: anatomy, Cavitermes, cuticular hydrocarbons, French Guiana, Isoptera, mitochondrial genome, Termes.


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