Publications

RESEARCH

Molecular identification of the invasive subterranean termite Reticulitermes grassei (Blattodea: Rhinotermitidae) outside its known distribution: introduction routes and implications for pest management strategies

Hernández-Teixidor, D., Duarte, S., Taheri, A., Borges, P.A.V. & Nunes, L. (2024) Molecular identification of the invasive subterranean termite Reticulitermes grassei (Blattodea: Rhinotermitidae) outside its known distribution: introduction routes and implications for pest management strategies.

Journal of Economic Entomology, 117(3), 1077-1085. DOI:10.1093/jee/toae071 (IF2023 2,2; Q1 Entomology)
  • Team:
  • Category:
  • May, 2024

Summary

Despite providing important ecosystem services, termites are also serious pests of wooden structures. Termites are highly adaptive organisms that cause concern as an invasive species. Predictions of the future spread of their distribution range due to factors such as climate change, urban growth, and global trade present new challenges to our capacity to protect our wood and wood-based materials and structures effectively. Reticulitermes grassei Clément, 1978 (Blattodea: Rhinotermitidae) is a subterranean termite native to the Iberian Peninsula and France, whose global distribution has widened over recent years. This article updates the distribution range of this species, confirming its identification in the Azores, Madeira, and Morocco through molecular analysis. The origin and consequences of these putative invasive populations are discussed in light of previously available data. The resulting network showed a highly structured base consisting of many haplotypes from the southern and southwestern Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal), including those from Morocco (in natural landscapes) and Switzerland (in infrastructures). The more derived part of the network includes the haplotypes from southwest France, the northwest Iberian Peninsula, the United Kingdom, Azores, and Madeira, the last 3 being linked probably to human-mediated transportation events. The potential impacts of invasive subterranean termite populations expanding into new regions are concerning, especially in urban environments, and remain uncertain in natural areas. The challenges posed by these termites could be especially worrying in island ecosystems. Hence, it is crucial to implement early warning systems and monitoring programs in regions susceptible to subterranean termite invasions.


https://academic.oup.com/jee/advance-article/doi/10.1093/jee/toae071/7645594