‘Transcontinental pollination’: How migrating insects enable plants to mix

Painted Lady butterfly

Metabarcoding, a technique of mass DNA sequencing, allows for tracing migratory routes of insects, an understudied subject due to technical limitations. A small DNA fragment of the pollen that insects transport is used as a barcode to identify the plant species they visited previously.

[The research shows] that transcontinental pollination mediated by migrating insects is possible and, therefore, various plants located very far apart can mix. The migration of insects is a natural phenomenon, as important as it is unknown …. The reasons, in short, are the technical limitations to study this behavior.

Now, in a study published in the journal Molecular Ecology Resources, researchers …. have developed a technique that …. allows [them] to easily study the migratory movements of insects: the DNA metabarcoding analysis of the pollen transported by insects.


The results of this study represent an important discovery …. because it demonstrates for the first time that transcontinental pollination by migratory insects is possible. It is a phenomenon to be taken into account both in wild and in cultivated plants because it enables plants from very distant locations to mix.

Read full, original article: Sequencing pollen DNA to discover insect migratory routes

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