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Enhancing the usefulness of artificial seeds in seed beetle model systems research

Citation

Holmes, Leslie; Nelson, William; Dyck, Markus; Lougheed, Stephen (2020), Enhancing the usefulness of artificial seeds in seed beetle model systems research, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.mkkwh70x7

Abstract

Seed beetles are among textbook examples of experimental model systems used to better understand nature’s complexities. A potential seed beetle model systems strength is the use of artificial seeds to remove experimental confounds. This is particularly relevant for scaling life histories to population dynamics but requires many artificial seeds. Current methods of producing seeds are laborious, limiting their application.

Building on previous work, we developed efficient methods to produce artificial seeds and expand their use. We outline steps to produce artificial seeds and describe a new technique for transferring beetle eggs laid on natural seeds to artificial seeds. 

Our methods yielded a 100-fold increase in artificial seed production that is 80% more efficient than current methods. Burrowing success of beetle larvae from eggs laid on natural seeds and transferred to artificial seeds (85.4%) was comparable to rates on natural seeds.  

Streamlining artificial seed production enables highly replicated life-history and time-series assays with large sample sizes. The ability to transfer eggs from natural to artificial seeds allows research on many phenomena including oviposition strategies, maternal provisioning, and competitive strategies, broadening the usefulness of seed beetle model systems in ecological and evolutionary research.