Hello loyal blog followers! I am happy to talk about my past week with everyone but I also have to inform you that this will be my last blog of the summer. This last blog signifies that the summer is almost over; it’s almost time to get back to school and watch the days get shorter. Many people may have heard that the University of Guelph was host to the 6th International Barcode of Life conference. Working as a summer student at BIO afforded me the opportunity to attend some of the lectures and discussion held. There were over 500 researchers in attendance from all over the world, which was great to further increase global collaboration.
There were a few sessions that I attended that really captivated my interests. One of these talks that I really enjoyed was done by Carlos Garcia-Robledo from the Institute of Ecology in México. The title of his talk was: Reconstructing interactions among plants, insect herbivores, and phoretic mites using DNA barcodes: modeling coextinctions under projected climate change. Please excuse me if I do not explain the talk and Carlos Garcia-Robledo’s research 100% accurately, but this is what I took away from the talk. Leaf beetles (Chrysomelidae) are a family of beetle and many are plant foliage feeders. These beetles themselves are host to an array of phoretic mites that live as ecto-parasites on the leaf beetles. I found it very interesting that there are sometimes upwards of 8 species of mites on a single beetle. Carlos Garcia-Robledo explained that when a species of beetles is lost in cases such as extinctions or possibly locally extirpations we are also losing many other species of mites that have an obligatory association with that specific leaf beetle. So there is a potential we are losing species that we are not even aware of because we only see that the beetle is gone but there are actually coextinctions of the beetle and its phoretic mites. Furthermore if the plant that is host to the beetle disappears, there is a cascading effect of coextinctions in the case of some leaf beetles. Indirectly the phoretic mites also rely on the host plant of the beetles because the beetles also have obligatory associations with some plants. Through a conservatory scope you could be protecting many species by protecting one species of plant.
I also really enjoyed a talk by J. Scott MacIvor from York University. His talk was titled: Leaves of leaf-cutting bees: Identity and diversity determined by DNA barcoding. Again please excuse any inaccuracies. I understood that some of J. Scott MacIvor’s work was to barcode the gut content of the leaf-cutting bees to better determine what bee friendly trees to plant in urban areas in further effort to support our pollinators. I thought this was a great idea and another example of the many applications the barcoding technology can be used.