research highlights POLLINATION SERVICES PeerJ 6, e4572 (2018) — in particular, bats. The cave nectar bat Sonneratia caseolaris, despite the (Eonycteris spelaea) of southeast Asia is nearest mangroves being around 40 km one such, but the extent and importance from the caves. of its pollinating activities have been Although much larger than previous difficult to assess. Using DNA barcoding, estimates of E. spelaea’s diet, this survey Voon-Ching Lim, of the University of must be considered a lower limit. The caves Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, and colleagues were sampled for a relatively short 10-week have now shown that E. spelaea is a period and would thus have missed plants promiscuous consumer of native and flowering at different times of the year. The introduced plants alike. study also failed to identify some plants The standard approach to identifying that had previously been recognized as food what plants nectar-eating bats have visited is sources for these bats, perhaps indicating to identify the pollen present in their faeces. that the primers used for DNA-amplification This is no easy task as pollen grains can were not sufficiently universal. Nevertheless, be difficult to uniquely identify, especially it is clear that bats are playing a role in the after passing through a bat’s digestive tract. pollination of native and non-native plants Instead, Voon-Ching Lim took an -omic alike, including agriculturally important approach, collecting faeces under the roost of crops such as banana, jackfruit and papaya. a colony of some several thousand E. spelaea The substantial presence of ornamental bats situated in Batu Caves on the northern plants, such as chrysanthemum and Golden outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Penda (Xanthostemon chrysanthus), shows extracting the DNA present and amplifying that the bats focus much of their foraging in it using common-to-plant sequences as the nearby urban districts of Kuala Lumpur. Credit: FLPA / Alamy Stock Photo primers. The sequences obtained were While presumably advantageous to the bats, identified as coming from at least 55 different this may indicate that exotic introductions Plants use many methods of pollination, plants, 49 of which were not previously are outcompeting native species for the either passively relying on environmental known to be part of E. spelaea’s diet. Of attention of this important pollinator. conditions (such as air currents) to those that could be identified at the species Chris Surridge distribute their pollen or employing active level, 24 were natives of Malaysia and 16 animal pollinators. While insects are the were introduced. The analysis also provided most commonly considered pollinators, evidence of lengthy foraging journeys by Published online: 4 June 2018 some mammals can also fulfil this role the bats to feed on mangrove plants, such as https://doi.org/10.1038/s41477-018-0182-1 NATuRE PLANTS | VOL 4 | JUNE 2018 | 317 | www.nature.com/natureplants © 2018 Macmillan Publishers Limited, part of Springer Nature. All rights reserved. © 2018 Macmillan Publishers Limited, part of Springer Nature. All rights reserved.
Nature Plants – Springer Journals
Published: Jun 4, 2018
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