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Title: Cuticular hydrocarbons and soldier defense secretions of Reticulitermes in southern California: a critical analysis of the taxonomy of the genus in North America

Author: Nelson, Lori J.; Cool, Laurence G.; Solek, Christopher W.; Haverty, Michael I.;

Date: 2008

Source: Journal of Chemical Ecology. 34(11): 1452-1475

Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Description: Cuticular hydrocarbons (CHC) and soldier defense secretions (SDS) were characterized for collections of Reticulitermes from six counties (Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, and Santa Barbara) in southern California. Collection sites included the type locality for R. hesperus, Lake Arrowhead (formerly known as Little Bear Lake) in the San Bernardino Mountains. In southern California, there are two CHC phenotypes, SC-A and SC-B, which are easily distinguished by the presence or absence of 5-methyl pentacosane, 5-methyl heptacosane, 5,17-dimethyl pentacosane, and 5,17-dimethyl heptacosane. These phenotypes are similar, but not identical, to previously designated phenotypes of Reticulitermes from northern California. The SDS of termites collected from southern California were characterized; (-)-germacrene A was abundant in all but the four samples from Lake Arrowhead. Soldiers of phenotype SC-A produced >79% germacrene A. The four samples from Lake Arrowhead produced no germacrene A, but contained >78% gamma-cadinene. The SDS from the Lake Arrowhead samples were more similar to those of CA-A/CA-A' from northern California than to any of the CHC phenotypes from southern California. Soldiers of CHC phenotype SC-B produced germacrene A, with the proportion varying from 16.2 to 98.7%. The SDS of SC-B were more similar to those of SC-A than to any of the phenotypes from northern California. The CHC phenotype SC-A found in southern California likely represents R. hesperus and SC-B appears to be a new, as yet undescribed species. We discuss the state of current taxonomic research on Reticulitermes.

Keywords: Rhinotermitidae, Reticulitermes, Chemotaxonomy, Cuticular hydrocarbons, Soldier defense secretions, Subterranean termites

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Nelson, Lori J.; Cool, Laurence G.; Solek, Christopher W.; Haverty, Michael I. 2008. Cuticular hydrocarbons and soldier defense secretions of Reticulitermes in southern California: a critical analysis of the taxonomy of the genus in North America. Journal of Chemical Ecology. 34(11): 1452-1475.

 


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