African Journal of
Microbiology Research

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Microbiol. Res.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1996-0808
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJMR
  • Start Year: 2007
  • Published Articles: 5173

Full Length Research Paper

Morphological and molecular characterisation of termite species in Taita Taveta County, Kenya

Paulyne Akoth
  • Paulyne Akoth
  • School of Biological Sciences, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, P. O. Box 62000-00200, Nairobi, Kenya.
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Huxley M. Makonde
  • Huxley M. Makonde
  • Department of Pure and Applied Sciences, Technical University of Mombasa, P. O. Box 90420-80100, Mombasa, Kenya.
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Nancy L. M. Budambula
  • Nancy L. M. Budambula
  • Department of Biological Sciences, University of Embu, P. O. Box, 60-0100, Embu, Kenya.
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Hamadi I. Boga
  • Hamadi I. Boga
  • School of Biological Sciences, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, P. O. Box 62000-00200, Nairobi, Kenya.
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  •  Received: 02 November 2021
  •  Accepted: 22 February 2022
  •  Published: 30 April 2022

Abstract

The diversity of termites remains obscure despite having seized the equatorial ecological community with numerous effects both environmental and solvent. In the current study, morphology and DNA based techniques were used to appraise the heterogeneity of termites in Taita Taveta County. Soldier termites were arbitrarily fragmented from the five main plant lives in the study region. A dissecting microscope was used to discern the external features of the termites and was noted. The features were compared to the identification keys and then transformed into quasi-characters to generate a dendrogram. DNA was isolated from the 31 specimens from which mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase II (COX II) gene was sequenced and probed. We tested whether or not molecular characterisation underpins morphological characterization and then obtained similar sequences from the Genebank Repository of National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) and used them together with our sequences for the phylogenetic tree construction. The results were supported by genetic specifications such as nucleotide composition and dichotomized genetic range. Termite of three different genera; Macrotermes, Amitermes and Odontotermes were identified based on their mound structure and soldier morphology. Phylogenetic analysis also placed the termites into three clusters, which were affiliated with the genera above. Genera Amitermes and Odontotermes were confined to distinct vegetation whereas the genus Macrotermes were all-pervasive. The study confirmed that both approaches identified the termite genera but a combination of both is necessary for confirmation and higher taxonomic classification.

 

Key words: COII, diversity, Macrotermitinae, termites, phylogeny.