Image of the Day: Attendance Record

Genetic material left behind on flowers can reveal which insects have visited.

Feb 11, 2019
Carolyn Wilke
A four-banded longhorn beetle (Leptura quadrifasciata)     
OLE MARTIN

Insects leave a DNA trail on the flowers they visit, researchers from Aarhus University, Denmark report February 7 in Ecology and Evolution. The scientists grabbed environmental DNA from 50 wildflowers of seven species. Their analysis revealed a record of insect guests from at least 135 arthropod species, including types of beetles, butterflies, bees, and many others. The new finding could help scientists piece together which insects pollinate each plant and track endangered bees and butterflies, according to the authors. 

P.F. Thomsen and E.E. Sigsgaard, “Environmental DNA metabarcoding of wild flowers reveals diverse communities of terrestrial arthropods,” Ecology and Evolution, doi:10.1002/ece3.480, 2019.