2023 Author: Bryan Walter | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-05-21 22:24
An international team of researchers has analyzed the mitochondrial DNA of the dragonfly Pantala flavescens, which is considered the most abundant on Earth. The results indicate that it makes the longest flights of any insect. The research report is published in the journal PLOS ONE.
Researchers at Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey, Braunschweig University of Technology in Germany, Miyagi University in Japan, and Halmstad University in Sweden have extracted mitochondrial DNA from P. flavescens from Guyana, India, Japan, and the United States. Using PCR, they amplified the mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase 1 (CO1) gene in 38 collected samples. The results were statistically processed using maximum likelihood and Bayesian analysis.
It turned out that the genes of dragonflies from different continents are so similar that they can be considered a single population in which individuals freely interbreed (such populations are called panmictic). Given the range of these insects, this means that P. flavescens travel distances from 14 thousand to 18 thousand kilometers, and possibly more. At the same time, they have to overcome about 3500 kilometers over the Indian Ocean without landing. None of the known insects migrate to such distances.
The researchers note that the enlarged bases of the hind wings help dragonflies fly over great distances. They allow you to soar for a long time with minimal energy consumption, using seasonal winds and updrafts. Long flights are necessary for P. flavescens to follow the humid climate - without fresh water, it is impossible to feed and reproduce.
According to scientists, dragonflies land to rest and mate, even if they spot rain puddles on small ocean islands. At the same time, an isolated population of P. flavescens was found earlier on Easter Island, which does not migrate at all. What caused such a difference in the habits of representatives of the same species is not yet known.