The fungus-growing subterranean termite Odontotermes formosanus Shiraki (Isoptera: Termitidae) is a destructive pest in Southeast Asia. To facilitate studies on the biology, ecology, and control of O. formosanus, we isolated and characterized nine novel microsatellite loci from a mixed partial genomic library of O. formosanus and the sympatric Macrotermes barneyi Light enriched for di-, tri-, and tetranucleotide repeats. We screened these loci in three populations of O. formosanus from China. All loci were polymorphic. Three loci showed heterozygote deficit possibly because of the presence of null alleles. The remaining six loci with 4–15 alleles per locus and an average observed heterozygosity of 0.15–0.60 across populations were used for population genetic analysis. Populations from different provinces (Guangdong, Jiangxi, and Hubei) were genetically differentiated, but the genetic distance between populations was surprisingly small (FST: 0.03–0.08) and the gene flow was considerable (Nem: 3–8), despite the geographical distance being >300 km. Genetic diversity within populations was low (allelic richness: 5.1–6.3) compared with other subterranean dwelling termites, but consistent with the diversity in species of the family Termitidae. Microsatellite markers developed for O. formosanus will allow further studies to examine the phylogeography, population genetic and colony breeding structure, dispersal ranges, and size of foraging territories in this and closely related species, as well as aid in assessing treatment success.
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