Hoplonympha natator is an obligate symbiont of Paraneotermes simplicicornis (Kalotermitidae), from southwestern North America. Another Hoplonympha species inhabits Hodotermopsis sjostedti (Archotermopsidae), from montane Southeast Asia. The large phylogenetic and geographical distance between the hosts makes the distribution of Hoplonympha puzzling. Here, we report the phylogenetic position of H. natator from P. simplicicornis through maximum likelihood and Bayesian analysis of 18S rRNA genes. The two Hoplonympha species form a clade with a deep node, making a recent symbiont transfer unlikely. The distribution of Hoplonympha may be due to an ancient transfer or strict vertical inheritance with differential loss from other hosts.
- lower termite
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