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Molecular Characterization of Parabasalian Symbionts Coronympha clevelandii and Trichonympha subquasilla from the Hawaiian Lowland Tree Termite Incisitermes immigrans

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Correspondence

P.J. Keeling, Department of Botany, University of British Columbia, 3529-6270 University Boulevard, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada Telephone number: +1 (604) 822 4906; FAX number: +1 (604) 822 6089;

e-mail: pkeeling@mail.ubc.ca

Abstract

An important and undervalued challenge in characterizing symbiotic protists is the accurate identification of their host species. Here, we use DNA barcoding to resolve one confusing case involving parabasalian symbionts in the hindgut of the Hawaiian lowland tree termite, Incisitermes immigrans, which is host to several parabasalians, including the type species for the genus Coronympha, C. clevelandii. We collected I. immigrans from its type locality (Hawaii), confirmed its identity by DNA barcoding, and characterized the phylogenetic position of two symbionts, C. clevelandii and Trichonympha subquasilla. These data show that previous molecular surveys of “I. immigrans” are, in fact, mainly derived from the Caribbean termite I. schwarzi, and perhaps also another related species. These results emphasize the need for host barcoding, clarify the relationship between morphologically distinct Coronympha species, and also suggest some interesting distribution patterns of nonendemic termite species and their symbionts.

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