Dr Tomasz Suchan and Dr Michał Ronikier from the Institute of Botany of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Krakow in cooperation with scientists from the Institut de Biologia Evolutiva and the Universitat Autònoma from Barcelona developed a technique for monitoring insect migration routes.
They identify the DNA of plants pollen that, for example, the butterflies carry on their body and on this basis the scientists learn the routes of insect migrations.
Researchers described their technique in the prestigious journal “Molecular Ecology Resources”. They analyzed the pollen deposits of 47 specimens of a painted lady butterfly, caught in the spring on the Mediterranean coast by co-workers from Spain. A short fragment of DNA from the pollen grains transported by butterflies was used as a molecular bar code to identify plant species visited by insects. By sequencing DNA from pollen collected from the body of a migrating insect, it was possible to determine which plants the individual touched. The analysis revealed the presence of 157 species of plants belonging to 23 orders, mostly from Africa.