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3 April 2021 Choosing an Effective PCR-Based Approach for Diet Analysis of Insect Herbivores: A Systematic Review
Alina Avanesyan, Hannah Sutton, William O. Lamp
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Identification of ingested plant species using polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based methods is an increasingly useful yet challenging approach to accurately determine the diet composition of insect herbivores and thus their trophic interactions. A typical process of detection of DNA of ingested plants involves the choice of a DNA extraction method, a genomic target region, and/or the best approach for an accurate plant species identification. The wide range of available techniques makes the choice of the most appropriate method for an accurately and timely identification of ingested plants from insect guts difficult. In our 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. 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.

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© The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Entomological Society of America. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail:
Alina Avanesyan, Hannah Sutton, and William O. Lamp "Choosing an Effective PCR-Based Approach for Diet Analysis of Insect Herbivores: A Systematic Review," Journal of Economic Entomology 114(3), 1035-1046, (3 April 2021).
Received: 27 June 2020; Accepted: 2 March 2021; Published: 3 April 2021

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DNA barcoding
gut content analysis
insect plant usage
plant–insect interactions
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