Alina Avanesyan
Among the redwoods -- Muir Woods

Plant DNA detection from grasshopper gut contents... published!

– December 28, 2013

My paper “Plant DNA detection from grasshopper gut contents: a step-by-step protocol, from tissues preparation to obtaining plant DNA sequences” has just been accepted for publication in Applications in Plant Sciences!

It will come out in February 2014. This paper describes a protocol for isolating plant food DNA from insect guts, developed specifically for grasshoppers. It is a very convenient and relatively quick PCR-based method which allows accurate confirmation of food consumption by insect herbivores. Given that grasshoppers are important agricultural pests and dominate insect herbivores in the grasslands, knowledge of their feeding preferences is critical for both crop management and landscape restoration.

The paper includes this video which I made to illustrate the main steps of dissecting a grasshopper.

I am currently applying this protocol to exploring grasshoppers’ feeding choices with regard to native and exotic plant species, which is another application of this method – to help managers to effectively control invasive plants and/or predict invasion.