Global genetic analysis reveals the putative native source of the invasive termite, Reticulitermes flavipes, in France.
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Biological invasions are recognized as a major threat to both natural and managed ecosystems. Phylogeographic and population genetic analyses can provide information about the geographical origins and patterns of introduction and explain the causes and mechanisms by which introduced species have become successful invaders. Reticulitermes flavipes is a North American subterranean termite that has been introduced into several areas, including France where introduced populations have become invasive. To identify likely source populations in the USA and to compare the genetic diversity of both native and introduced populations, an extensive molecular genetic study was undertaken using the COII region of mtDNA and 15 microsatellite loci. Our results showed that native northern US populations appeared well differentiated from those of the southern part of the US range. Phylogenetic analysis of both mitochondrial and nuclear markers showed that French populations probably originated from southeastern US populations, and more specifically from Louisiana. All of the mtDNA haplotypes shared between the United States and France were found in Louisiana. Compared to native populations in Louisiana, French populations show lower genetic diversity at both mtDNA and microsatellite markers. These findings are discussed along with the invasion routes of R. flavipes as well as the possible mechanisms by which French populations have evolved after their introduction.