Use of DNA Barcoding in the Taxonomy of Fire Ant Species in Riyadh Region, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

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Use of DNA Barcoding in the Taxonomy of Fire Ant Species in Riyadh Region, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia



In this research project, the ant species of Riyadh region will be surveyed, collected, identified, recorded, and listed. The collecting efforts will be focused on the fire ants species existing in Riyadh region. The field survey will involve different types of collecting techniques to cover diverse habitats in Riyadh region. A reference ant collection will be established. The taxonomy of the collected and recorded ant species will be reviewed and a key will be presented to facilitate species identification. DNA barcoding will be used for the study of the taxonomy of the Fire ants, Solenopsis. The molecular characterization generated from DNA sequences will be used to confirm the species identification based on morphological characteristics. Phylogenetic studies will be conducted to assess the genetic diversity within the ants collected from Saudi habitats. Moreover, phylogenetic trees will be constructed, based on the DNA sequences generated in our study and other retrieved DNA sequences from GenBank to determine the genetic relatedness between Saudi ants and other ant species collected worldwide. The combination of traditional taxonomy, based on morphology, and molecular taxonomy based on DNA data will be much useful in species identification. This study will enable other researchers to make sound ant identifications and consequently will contribute to the knowledge of not only pest ant species but also other beneficial ones in Saudi Arabia.

1. Identification of ant species belonging to genus Solenopsis found in Riyadh Rigion, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. 2. Generating DNA barcodes for the collected ants, especially for those which are belonging to genus Solenopsis. 3. Developing phylogenetic tress based on DNA sequences generated from Saudi ants and DNA sequences retrieved from the GenBank to assess genetic relatedness within Saudi ants and between Saudi ants and non-Saudi ones.

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