Alina Avanesyan
Among the redwoods -- Muir Woods

Our systematic review on PCR approaches to insect gut content analysis is published!

– April 3, 2021

I’m happy to share that our review paper entitled “Choosing an effective PCR-based approach for diet analysis of insect herbivores: A systematic review.” is published in Journal of Economic Entomology. In this study we reviewed the commonly used PCR-based approaches in studies published from 1977 to 2019, to provide researchers with the information on the tools which have been shown to be effective for obtaining and identifying ingested plants.

In our systematic review, we were specifically focused on the following questions: (1) What insect groups were used for detecting ingested plant species using a PCR-based approach? (2) Which DNA extraction methods have been used for detecting plant DNA from insect guts? (3) Which DNA regions have been shown to allow for successful identification of plant species? (4) How is the presence of the targeted plant DNA fragment verified?

Our results showed that among five insect orders used in the retrieved studies Coleoptera and Hemiptera were prevalent (33 and 28% of all the records, respectively). In 79% of the studies a DNA barcoding approach was employed. In a substantial number of studies Qiagen DNA extraction kits and CTAB protocol were used (43 and 23%, respectively). Of all records, 65% used a single locus as a targeted plant DNA fragment; trnL, rbcL, and ITS regions were the most frequently used loci. Sequencing was the dominant type of among DNA verification approaches (70% of all records). This review provides important information on the availability of successfully used PCR-based approaches to identify ingested plant DNA in insect guts, and suggests potential directions for future studies on plant–insect trophic interactions.

Here is our paper.