Pollen DNA barcoding: Current applications and future prospects.

Karen. L. Bell, Natasha De Vere, Alexander Keller, Rodney Richardson, Annemarie Gous, Kevin S. Burgess, Berry J. Brosi

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Identification of the species origin of pollen has many applications, including assessment of plant-pollinator networks, reconstruction of ancient plant communities, product authentication, allergen monitoring, and forensics. Such applications, however, have previously been limited by microscopy-based identification of pollen, which is slow, has low taxonomic resolution, and few expert practitioners. One alternative is pollen DNA barcoding, which could overcome these issues. Recent studies demonstrate that both chloroplast and nuclear barcoding markers can be amplified from pollen. These recent validations of pollen metabarcoding indicate that now is the time for researchers in various fields to consider applying these methods to their research programs. In this paper, we review the nascent field of pollen DNA barcoding and discuss potential new applications of this technology, highlighting existing limitations and future research developments that will improve its utility in a wide range of applications.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)629-640
Issue number9
Early online date13 Apr 2016
Publication statusPublished - 01 Sept 2016


  • DNA metabarcoding
  • metagenomics
  • pollen
  • palynology
  • high-throughput sequencing
  • next-generation sequencing


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