Recent studies have shown that environmental DNA is found almost everywhere. Flower petal surfaces are an attractive tissue to use for investigation of the dispersal of environmental DNA in nature as they are isolated from the external environment until the bud opens and only then can the petal surface accumulate environmental DNA. Here, we performed a crowdsourced experiment, the “Ohanami Project”, to obtain environmental DNA samples from petal surfaces of Cerasus × yedoensis ‘Somei-yoshino’ across the Japanese archipelago during spring 2015. C. × yedoensis is the most popular garden cherry species in Japan and clones of this cultivar bloom simultaneously every spring. Data collection spanned almost every prefecture and totaled 577 DNA samples from 149 collaborators. Preliminary amplicon-sequencing analysis showed the rapid attachment of environmental DNA onto the petal surfaces. Notably, we found DNA of other common plant species in samples obtained from a wide distribution; this DNA likely originated from the pollen of the Japanese cedar. Our analysis supports our belief that petal surfaces after blossoming are a promising target to reveal the dynamics of environmental DNA in nature. The success of our experiment also shows that crowdsourced environmental DNA analyses have considerable value in ecological studies.
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