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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2007

Divergence times in the termite genus Macrotermes (Isoptera : Termitidae)

Brandl R, Hyodo F, von Koff-Schmising M, Maekawa K, Miura T, Takematsu Y, Matsumoto T, Abe T, Bagine R, Kaib M


The evolution of fungus-growing termites is supposed to have started in the African rain forests with multiple invasions of semi-arid habitats as well as multiple invasions of the Oriental region. We used sequences of the mitochondrial Coll gene and Bayesian dating to investigate the time frame of the evolution of Macrotermes, an important genus of fungus-growing termites. We found that the genus Macrotermes consists of at least 6 distantly related clades. Furthermore, the Coll sequences suggested some cryptic diversity within the analysed African Macrotermes species. The dates calculated with the Coll data using a fossilized termite mound to calibrate the clock were in good agreement with dates calculated with COI sequences using the split between Locusta and Chortippus as calibration point which supports the consistency of the calibration points. The clades from the Oriental region dated back to the early Tertiary. These estimates of divergence times suggested that Macrotermes invaded Asia during periods with humid climates. For Africa, many speciation events predated the Pleistocene and fall in range of 6-23 million years ago. These estimates suggest that savannah-adapted African clades radiated with the spread of the semi-arid ecosystems during the Miocene. Apparently, events during the Pleistocene were of little importance for speciation within the genus Macrotermes. However, further investigations are necessary to increase the number of taxa for phylogenetic analysis. (c) 2007 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved

Published in

Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution
2007, volume: 45, number: 1, pages: 239-250

Authors' information

Bagine, R
Brandl, R
Kaib, M
Maekawa, K
Miura, T
Takematsu, Y
von Korff-Schmising, M
Abe, T
Matsumoto, T
Hyodo, Fujio
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Forest Ecology and Management

UKÄ Subject classification

Forest Science

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