As part of the 2021 Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition, DTP students Elie Kent and Ned Peel are working with other scientists at the Earlham Institute (EI), and University of Cambridge to help answer the seemingly innocuous question of what is a bee’s favourite flower, which might well save our wildlife and our food.
Elie, a student based at the University of East Anglia (UEA) is using a new method of DNA sequencing to better understand insect pollination of berry crops in the UK. Last year she conducted field research on blueberry and raspberry farms, catching bees and taking their pollen. Back at the Earlham Institute she’s been sequencing the pollen DNA, allowing her to identify which species of flower the bees have collected pollen from.
Ned, based at EI, is developing software to help identify the species found in mixed environmental samples using some of the latest DNA sequencing technology (the Oxford Nanopore MinION) which is used in the real life bee trail. Ned works both in the lab and on the computer, extracting DNA from bee-collected pollen and leaf tissue samples, and sequencing the DNA, as well as developing the RevMet (reverse metagenomics) analysis pipeline that helps us match pollen to the correct plant.
To see the full details, visit the Royal Society website
Photo credit: Dave Bickerton