Using a nanopore sequencing approach to investigate the pollen diet of bumblebees in an agricultural landscape

Kent, Eleanor (2023) Using a nanopore sequencing approach to investigate the pollen diet of bumblebees in an agricultural landscape. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Pollinators play an important role in ecosystem functioning and pollination services, which is especially true of agricultural landscapes that are suffering biodiversity losses due to land intensification, chemical use and reduction of natural habitats. The mechanisms by which foraging occurs can be better understood by identifying the floral resources most commonly used by pollinators using DNA sequencing. A whole genome sequencing approach, ‘Reverse Metagenomics’, has previously shown evidence of semi-quantitative characterisation of mock DNA mixes. Here, RevMet is applied to pollen collected from foraging commercial bumblebees (Bombus terrestris) on farms growing highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum) and compared to microscopic proportions. The RevMet results provide evidence of qualitative and quantitative abilities, which are further tested comparatively using nanopore-sequenced ITS2 amplicons derived from mock pollen mixtures. The quantitative RevMet results from this study show a potential bias from plant genome size that can be improved using a correction factor. To apply RevMet in a wider ecological context, pollen loads are sequenced from foraging commercial bumblebees located on four farms growing highbush blueberry in southern England over the crop flowering season. Here, the most utilised plant taxa are revealed, providing recommendations for landowners of attractive foraging resources that can be used to inform landscape level decisions. Overall, this work demonstrates an improved understanding of the RevMet approach when applied to pollen loads, and provides evidence of the floral community most commonly used by commercial bumblebees on UK farms growing highbush blueberry crops.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Science > School of Biological Sciences
Depositing User: Chris White
Date Deposited: 11 Apr 2024 08:27
Last Modified: 11 Apr 2024 08:27


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