Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Determining Plant – Leaf Miner – Parasitoid Interactions: A DNA Barcoding Approach

Derocles, Stéphane A.P.; Evans, Darren M.; Nichols, Paul C.; Evans, S. Aifionn; Lunt, David H.


Stéphane A.P. Derocles

Darren M. Evans

Paul C. Nichols

S. Aifionn Evans


Carlos López-Vaamonde


A major challenge in network ecology is to describe the full-range of species interactions in a community to create highly-resolved food-webs. We developed a molecular approach based on DNA full barcoding and mini-barcoding to describe difficult to observe plant – leaf miner – parasitoid interactions, consisting of animals commonly regarded as agricultural pests and their natural enemies. We tested the ability of universal primers to amplify the remaining DNA inside leaf miner mines after the emergence of the insect. We compared the results of a) morphological identification of adult specimens; b) identification based on the shape of the mines; c) the COI Mini-barcode (130 bp) and d) the COI full barcode (658 bp) fragments to accurately identify the leaf-miner species. We used the molecular approach to build and analyse a tri-partite ecological network of plant – leaf miner – parasitoid interactions. We were able to detect the DNA of leaf-mining insects within their feeding mines on a range of host plants using mini-barcoding primers: 6% for the leaves collected empty and 33% success after we observed the emergence of the leaf miner. We suggest that the low amplification success of leaf mines collected empty was mainly due to the time since the adult emerged and discuss methodological improvements. Nevertheless our approach provided new species-interaction data for the ecological network. We found that the 130 bp fragment is variable enough to identify all the species included in this study. Both COI fragments reveal that some leaf miner species could be composed of cryptic species. The network built using the molecular approach was more accurate in describing tri-partite interactions compared with traditional approaches based on morphological criteria.


Derocles, S. A., Evans, D. M., Nichols, P. C., Evans, S. A., & Lunt, D. H. (2015). Determining Plant – Leaf Miner – Parasitoid Interactions: A DNA Barcoding Approach. PLoS ONE, 10(2), Article e0117872.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 4, 2015
Online Publication Date Feb 24, 2015
Publication Date Feb 24, 2015
Deposit Date Aug 3, 2018
Publicly Available Date Oct 27, 2022
Journal PLOS ONE
Print ISSN 1932-6203
Electronic ISSN 1932-6203
Publisher Public Library of Science
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 10
Issue 2
Article Number e0117872
Public URL
Publisher URL


Article (1.9 Mb)

Publisher Licence URL

Copyright Statement
© 2015 Derocles et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited

You might also like

Downloadable Citations