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German biologists said that in one single tea bag you can find traces of hundreds of insect species that once came into contact with the plant.
In their recent study, German experts found genetic traces of more than 1,000 insects in tea samples, indicating great “diversity” in your morning cup, IFLS writes.
Scientists came to this conclusion after analysis of environmental DNA – DNA obtained from the environment – showed that tea bags contain much more than savory notes and caffeine. Hundreds of species of insects can be found in one single tea bag.
While brewing insects may not sound like much, this finding doesn't mean you should look for spider legs in your tea, but rather represents an alternative approach to assessing the species richness of an ecosystem.
In their new study, the scientists looked for the presence environmental DNA in dried tea leaves and herbs purchased from German grocery stores. Environmental DNA samples resemble the genetic breadcrumbs left by living things and can be sequenced to determine which species live in a particular environment.
“In total, we found 3264 arthropods representing 3 different classes, 22 orders, 281 families, 1068 genera and 1279 species, including predatory insects, herbivores, parasitoids and detritivores,” the scientists said.
In each individual sample, an average of more than 200 taxonomic units were found, and tea showed the highest average.
According to experts, their discovery could be very useful for future research on biodiversity and arthropod conservation, as well as pest monitoring and plant imports.
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