Molecular analysis of orchid pollinaria and pollinaria-remains found on insects

Alex Widmer, S. Cozzolino, G. Pellegrino, M. Soliva, A. Dafni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1911-1914
Number of pages4
JournalMolecular Ecology
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2000


  • Hymenoptera
  • Identification
  • Nuclear rDNA internal transcribed spacer (ITS)
  • Orchidinae
  • Plant-pollinator interaction
  • Pollination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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