Unrelated secondary reproductives in the neotropical termite Silvestritermes euamignathus (Isoptera: Termitidae)
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- Haifig, I., Vargo, E.L., Labadie, P. et al. Sci Nat (2016) 103: 9. doi:10.1007/s00114-015-1325-0
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A termite colony is usually founded by a pair of alates, the primary reproductives, which produce all the nestmates. In some species, secondary reproductives appear to either replace the primaries or supplement colony reproduction. In termites, secondary reproductives are generally ergatoids derived from workers or nymphoids derived from nymphs. Silvestritermes euamignathus is a termite species that forms multiple nymphoid reproductives, and to date it was hypothesized that these secondary reproductives were the progeny of the primary founding reproductives. We developed markers for 12 microsatellite loci and used COI mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) to genotype 59 nymphoid neotenics found in a colony of S. euamignathus to test this hypothesis. Our results showed that nymphoids of S. euamignathus are not all siblings. The microsatellite analysis suggests that the secondary reproductives derived from a minimum of four different pairs of reproductives belonging to at least two different matrilines. This is the first record of non-sibling secondary reproductives occupying the same nest in a higher termite. These unrelated reproductives might be the result of either pleometrotic colony foundation or colony fusion.