Tue, 23 Apr 2013: 1.00pm @ DBS CR II – Zhang Manping on “Population Structure and Gut Flora Diversity in Coptotermes gestroi in Southeast Asia”


Qualifying  Examination

“Population Structure and Gut Flora Diversity in Coptotermes gestroi in Southeast Asia”

Zhang Manping
Graduate Student
Dept. of Biological Sciences, NUS

Tues, 23 April 2013: 1.00pm
@ DBS Conference Room ii (S1 Level 3, Mezzanine)
Supervisor: Assoc Prof Evans, Theodore Alfred

All are welcome


Coptotermes gestroi (Wasmann) (Insecta: Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae), commonly known as the house termite, is one of the most destructive urban pests in Southeast Asia.  This species has gut microorganisms (protists, bacteria and archea) to aid wood digestion and nutrient intake. 

It appears to be an urban adaptor or exploiter, as it rare in natural forests, but common in urban centres; it has been found to infest up to 80% of buildings in Malaysia.

The species is invasive as well, and had spread though human trade to other geographic regions, including east and south Asia, North and South America, Europe and several islands in the Pacific, Caribbean and India Oceans. 

Although C. gestroi is an important pest species, little is known about its origins, endemic distribution, geographic spread, and adaptation to urban life. Indeed it is only in the last decade its taxonomy was resolved.

My project aims at uncover some of this unknown information, by elucidating the population structure and genetic diversity of C. gestroi across Southeast Asia and invasive populations using microsatellite markers.  A better sampling strategy (sampling in cities, countrysides and forest) and comparative Copototermes species would be adopted. 

Pyrosequencing survey of the gut flora diversity will be used as a facilitated method to reveal the dispersal pattern, and help understand adaptation to urban life.

A laboratory experiment that tests the effect of food types on gut flora diversity of C. gestroi will complement the pyrosequencing. 

My project intends to shed some light on

  1. The origin and dispersal pattern of C. gestroi.
  2. The underlying mechanism for wide distribution of the species.
  3. The adaptive strategy of C. gestroi to urbanization.”

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