This Friday, August 20, 2021, from 12–1pm, we will discuss the linked article at our next weekly Journal Club meeting. The article is titled “Applying pollen DNA metabarcoding to the study of plant–pollinator interactions”, and will be presented by STEM Research intern Isabelle Staco.
Premise of the study:
To study pollination networks in a changing environment, we need accurate, high-throughput methods. Previous studies have shown that more highly resolved networks can be constructed by studying pollen loads taken from bees, relative to field observations. DNA metabarcoding potentially allows for faster and finer-scale taxonomic resolution of pollen compared to traditional approaches (e.g., light microscopy), but has not been applied to pollination networks.
We sampled pollen from 38 bee species collected in Florida from sites differing in forest management. We isolated DNA from pollen mixtures and sequenced rbcL and ITS2 gene regions from all mixtures in a single run on the Illumina MiSeq platform. We identified species from sequence data using comprehensive rbcL and ITS2 databases.
We successfully built a proof-of-concept quantitative pollination network using pollen metabarcoding.
Our work underscores that pollen metabarcoding is not quantitative but that quantitative networks can be constructed based on the number of interacting individuals. Due to the frequency of contamination and false positive reads, isolation and PCR negative controls should be used in every reaction. DNA metabarcoding has advantages in efficiency and resolution over microscopic identification of pollen, and we expect that it will have broad utility for future studies of plant–pollinator interactions.
Meeting ID: 549 554 5262
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Photo by Boris Smokrovic on Unsplash