Biological Invasions

, Volume 12, Issue 5, pp 1389–1402 | Cite as

Geographical distribution, genetic diversity and social organization of a new European termite, Reticulitermes urbis (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae)

  • Laurianne Leniaud
  • Franck Dedeine
  • Apolline Pichon
  • Simon Dupont
  • Anne-Geneviève Bagnères
Original Paper


Reticulitermes urbis is a recently described termite species that has probably been introduced into Western Europe where it has been found exclusively in urban areas. However, little is known about the geographic distribution and origin of R. urbis. This study was undertaken to determine whether this species was introduced from the Balkans. A parsimony network did not show any association between mtDNA haplotypes and geographic regions suggesting that western European populations were the result of human-mediated dispersion. Variation patterns of the COI and COII regions as well as microsatellites showed that the genetic diversity of Western European colonies was lower than for colonies collected in the Balkans, suggesting that the introduced populations suffered from a founder effect. As observed in the introduced populations of R. flavipes, all colonies of R. urbis had an extended-family structure with several reproductives. These results support the scenario that this termite was introduced into Western Europe.


Termites Invasive species Genetic marker Native source population Reticulitermes urbis 



Authors wish to thank Andrea Luchetti, Paolo Uva, Valeria Zaffagnini, Gilles Landrin, Marilène Poirié for providing samples, Nese Kaplan for her technical help and Tony Tebby for English revision. We also wish to thank two anonymous referees for their helpful comments. This work was partly funded by the Direction Départementale de l’Equipement des Bouches du Rhône (DDE13), the Direction Régionale de l’Equipement (DRE) of the PACA Region and the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS). Laurianne Leniaud received a PhD grant from the Region Centre.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laurianne Leniaud
    • 1
  • Franck Dedeine
    • 1
  • Apolline Pichon
    • 1
  • Simon Dupont
    • 1
  • Anne-Geneviève Bagnères
    • 1
  1. 1.I.R.B.I. CNRS UMR 6035, Faculté des Sciences et TechniquesUniversité François RabelaisToursFrance

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