Bridgehead effect and multiple introductions shape the global invasion history of a termite.


Blumenfeld AJ(#)(1), Eyer PA(#)(2), Husseneder C(3), Mo J(4), Johnson LNL(2)(5), Wang C(6), Kenneth Grace J(7), Chouvenc T(8), Wang S(9), Vargo EL(2).
Author information:
(1)Department of Entomology, 2143 TAMU, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, USA. [Email]
(2)Department of Entomology, 2143 TAMU, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, USA.
(3)Department of Entomology, Louisiana State University Agricultural Center, Baton Rouge, LA, USA.
(4)Ministry of Agriculture Key Lab of Molecular Biology of Crop Pathogens and Insect Pests, Institute of Insect Sciences, College of Agricultural and Biotechnology, Zhejiang University, Zhejiang, PR China.
(5)Department of Veterinary Sciences, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY, USA.
(6)Department of Entomology, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, NJ, USA.
(7)Department of Plant and Environmental Protection Sciences, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, HI, USA.
(8)Entomology and Nematology Department, Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Fort Lauderdale, FL, USA.
(9)Texas A&M AgriLife Genomics and Bioinformatics Service, College Station, TX, USA.
(#)Contributed equally


Native to eastern Asia, the Formosan subterranean termite Coptotermes formosanus (Shiraki) is recognized as one of the 100 worst invasive pests in the world, with established populations in Japan, Hawaii and the southeastern United States. Despite its importance, the native source(s) of C. formosanus introductions and their invasive pathway out of Asia remain elusive. Using ~22,000 SNPs, we retraced the invasion history of this species through approximate Bayesian computation and assessed the consequences of the invasion on its genetic patterns and demography. We show a complex invasion history, where an initial introduction to Hawaii resulted from two distinct introduction events from eastern Asia and the Hong Kong region. The admixed Hawaiian population subsequently served as the source, through a bridgehead, for one introduction to the southeastern US. A separate introduction event from southcentral China subsequently occurred in Florida showing admixture with the first introduction. Overall, these findings further reinforce the pivotal role of bridgeheads in shaping species distributions in the Anthropocene and illustrate that the global distribution of C. formosanus has been shaped by multiple introductions out of China, which may have prevented and possibly reversed the loss of genetic diversity within its invasive range.