Direct observations of pollinator visits to orchids are often difficult and time consuming, especially in orchids with a deceptive pollination system where seed set is typically pollinator-limited. This lack of direct observations greatly inhibits our understanding of orchid-pollinator relationships and especially the degree of pollinator-specificity. Here we describe a molecular approach to the study of orchid-pollinator relationships based on the analysis of DNA recovered from pollinaria found on insects. The insects were collected from nectar-rich plants flowering near natural orchid populations, or taken from museum collections. Sequence analysis of the nuclear ribosomal ITS region allowed the identification of the orchid species or species-group from which the pollinaria originated. Four out of eight orchid-pollinator relationships established with this approach have not been reported previously, which highlights the value of molecular tools for the study of orchid pollination biology.
- Nuclear rDNA internal transcribed spacer (ITS)
- Plant-pollinator interaction
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics