Chemical ecologist Yuko Ishida of Toyama, Japan, a former UC Davis post-doctoral researcher who shared the same lab--and the same bench--in Briggs Hall that Duffey did, is the lead co-author of a cover story recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) about an invasive species of millipede that secrets hydrogen cyanide as a defensive mechanism. (See research paper)
Ishida and Duffey never met but they shared a love of science and chemical ecology, in addition to the same lab.
At the time of his death, Duffey was a professor and vice chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology. When chemical ecologist/professor Walter Leal joined the UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty in 2000, he occupied the former labs of professors Duffey and Susumu Maeda (1950-1998) and memoralized their lives and work by naming his lab the “Honorary Maeda-Duffey lab.”
Ishida worked in the Honorary Maeda-Duffey lab from May 2001 to November 2007 at UC Davis.
“Yuko loves to tackle challenging problems and he is well prepared to solve them,” said Leal, former chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and now with the UC Davis Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology.
Ishida also photographed the millipede, found in southern Japan, for the PNAS cover.
The four scientists all work at the Biotechnology Research Center and Department of Biotechnology, Toyama Prefectural University, and are affiliated with the Asano Active Enzyme Molecule Project, Exploratory Research for Advanced Technology, Japan Science and Technology Agency, Toyama.
“To discover more efficient and stable HNLs, we focused on the invasive cyanogenic millipede as a bioresource,” the scientists wrote. “The HNL identified from the millipede showed not only the highest specific activity toward benzaldehyde among known HNLs, including the almond HNL in industrial use, along with wide temperature and pH stabilities, but also high enantioselectivity in the synthesis of various cyanohydrins. These properties make it suitable as an industrial biocatalyst. Arthropods are likely to be valuable sources of potential biocatalysts for the next generation of industrial biotechnology.”
“There followed several papers on the biochemistry of HCN production and the production of other defensive compounds in these interesting animals,” they wrote. “After arriving at UC Davis, Sean began a long series of brilliant studies on the chemical mechanisms used by plants to fend off attack by insects and various pathogens. This work centered on resistance in tomatoes, and over the years he collaborated with numerous students and colleagues. Studies analyzed the role of numerous chemicals produced by plants including tomatine, proteinase inhibitors, and various plant oxidative enzymes. Recent studies had included analyses of induced defenses and the interactions of chemicals with the biological agents such as parasitoids and baculoviruses used in various IPM and biological control programs.”
“A constant theme and frequently emphasized message in Sean's work was the fact that chemical-biological interactions were rarely simple and straightforward,” they wrote. “He stressed that in order to understand plant-insect interactions, for example, it was necessary to understand the interactions among plant chemicals, the overall characteristics of the insect's diet, the physiological state of the insect, and the modifiable characteristics of plant and insect. Chemical and biological context and chemical mixture were seen as critical determinants of biological activity; a simple view that natural products functioned merely as "toxins" or isolated defensive factors was often misleading.”
Carey, Dingle and Ullman praised Duffey's "truly interdisciplinary research that included several joint projects with members of the Entomology Department and also with colleagues in the departments of Nematology Ecology and Plant Pathology. We all experienced Sean insisting over and over that interactions are not simple and that one must understand the chemistry, the physiology, and the ecology to really understand interactions between plants, insects, and their pathogens. Sean's legacy is an outstanding record of how to go about studying plant-insect interactions, not just the gathering of data on interactions that occur.”
The legacy continues...
Teachers ask their students to make an insect collection. The project is considered a "rite of passage." However, often the students--whether they be middle school, high school or college level--don't know where to begin. Ditto for 4-H'ers enrolled in entomology projects.
What to do?
The UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology to the rescue. There, on the home page, students can access short, clear, concise videos on how to create an insect collection. They can watch and download them for free.
The story behind the story: Back in 2010, James R. Carey. professor of entomology, wanted to teach UC Davis students how to create and produce short videos that could tell the story in a minute or less. And he did just that.
The entire series, totaling 11 clips ranging in length from 32 seconds to 77 seconds, can be viewed in just less than 10 minutes.
“So in less than 10 minutes, someone can learn how to make an insect collection,” Carey says. The clips are tightly scripted, with an emphasis on brevity, simplicity and low cost.
The project continues to draw widespread interest and won an award from the Entomological Society of America. Carey, now a distinguished professor in the Department of Entomology and Nematology and active in research, teaching and public service, went on to win the ESA's 2015 national teaching award. It will be presented at the ESA's November meeting in Minnesota. The "How to Make an Insect Collection" project was just one of the many factors considered. (See his many other projects on his website.)
So, how do you make an insect collection? Easy!
Here are the videos:
Hand Collecting (32 seconds)
Using an Aspirator (34 seconds)
Ground Collecting (54 seconds)
Aquatic Collecting (58 seconds)
Using Nets (58 seconds)
Killing (51 seconds)
Pinning (43 seconds)
Point Mounting (50 seconds)
Labeling Specimens (48 seconds)
Spreading (77 seconds)
Storage and Display (32 seconds)
It's a sin to kill a mockingbird, wrote Pulitzer Prize-winning author Harper Lee in her classic novel, "To Kill a Mockingbird."
"Mockingbirds don't do one thing except make music for us to enjoy," one of her characters, Miss Maudie, wisely observed. "They don't eat up people's gardens, don't nest in corn cribs, they don't do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That's why it's a sin to kill a mockingbird."
Harper Lee's work came to mind yesterday when we saw a praying mantis devouring a monarch butterfly on our butterfly bush, located next to several milkweed plants. We watched the clipped monarch wings flutter down and land among the leaves.
It was a female monarch. She may have stopped to sip some nectar during her egg-laying mission. The hungry predator ambushed her.
The shock of seeing a delicate monarch gripped between spiked forelegs stuns you, especially when you've just reared two monarchs and have two more to go.
"Umm, do you mind?" we wanted to ask the mantis. "Please eat the cabbage white butterflies, stink bugs and aphids, not the monarchs."
Praying mantids are considered beneficial insects, but all we've seen them eat are honey bees, sunflower bees, butterflies and an occasional Gulf Fritillary caterpillar. However, they do eat ants, wasps, flies, and moths, as well. The larger praying mantids prey on hummingbirds.
The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation summed up the monarch decline well on its website: "Monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) of North America are renowned for their long-distance seasonal migration and spectacular winter gatherings in Mexico and California. The monarch butterfly population has recently declined to dangerously low levels. In the 1990s, estimates of up to one billion monarchs made the epic flight each fall from the northern plains of the U.S. and Canada to sites in the oyamel fir forests north of Mexico City, and more than one million monarchs overwintered in forested groves on the California Coast. Now, researchers and citizen scientists estimate that only about 56.5 million monarchs remain, representing a decline of more than 80% from the 21 year average across North America."
Okay, praying mantis. We know. It was only one. You have to eat, too. You needed the protein to lay your ootheca. But have you ever considered how tasty and prevalent cabbage white butterflies are?
Well, some folks call it "bug porn" and some call it a "two-for" images--two insects in one photo. But in this case, this was a "three-for" image. A honey bee nectaring on the nearby lavender photobombed my image and the mating pair, still attached, clumsily fluttered off in a four-wing attempt. Appropriately enough, they headed over to the pasionflower vine, their host plant
We recall butterfly expert Art Shapiro, distinguished professor of evolution and ecology at the University of California, Davis, telling us several years ago that the showy reddish-orange butterfly is making a comeback in the Sacramento-Davis area. In the early 1970s, it was considered extinct in that area.
“It first appeared in the vicinity of San Diego in the 1870s,” he related in a previous Bug Squad blog. “It spread through Southern California in urban settings and was first recorded in the Bay Area about 1908. It became a persistent breeding resident in the East and South Bay in the 1950s and has been there since.”
Shapiro says it “apparently bred in the Sacramento area and possibly in Davis in the 1960s, becoming extinct in the early 1970s, then recolonizing again throughout the area since 2000.”
One of the Gulf Frit's favorite nectar sources is lantana (genus Lantana, family Verbenaceae.) In our yard they also lean toward the lavender and Tithonia.
There, on appropriate occasions, they like a little privacy.
Especially since the United States is busily restoring diplomatic relations with Cuba.
Think entomology. Think ICE. Think ICE'ing on the cake. Think ICE'ing on an entomological cake.
When the 2016 International Congress of Entomology (ICE 2016), co-chaired by a UC Davis chemical ecologist Walter Leal takes place next year in Orlando, Fla., it truly will follow the theme, “Entomology without Borders.”
One of Cuba's leading entomologists will deliver an invitational lecture on the mosquito that transmits dengue, announced Leal, professor of biochemistry and chemical ecology at the UC Davis Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, and former chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology
Juan Andrés Bisset, head of the Vector Control Department at the Pedro Kouri Institute of Tropical Medicine and an advisor to the Cuban Public Health Ministry, will speak on “Aedes aegypti Management Strategies for Dengue Control in Cuba.” He studied at UC Riverside with G.P. Georgiou in 1986.
“When I received my first passport as a Brazilian citizen, it was stamped ‘not valid' for Cuba,” recalled Leal. “That sparked a curiosity about that country. After I become an entomologist and a U.S. citizen, my curiosity shifted toward entomology in Cuba. Fast forward to today: The International Congress of Entomology could not justify its theme, ‘Entomology without Borders,' if we did not have at least one delegate from Cuba.”
“We are absolutely delighted to host Dr. Juan Bisset.”
Added ICE 2016 co-chair Alvin Simmons, U.S. Department of Agriculture research entomologist: “We are dedicated to providing a premier congress experience for 7,000 to 8,000 international attendees. This includes fostering an environment of scientific breadth and all-inclusiveness. So, it is quite fitting for participation from Cuba to be a part of this historical event.”
The conference, expected to be the world's largest gathering of entomologists, takes place Sept. 25-30, 2016. Bisset will speak from 4:30 to 5:30 p. m. Tuesday, Sept. 25. Many mosquito researchers, including those from the University of California, are expected to attend.
In an email to Bisset, Leal called attention to a recent editorial in Science magazine “Science in U.S. Cuba relations” (May 15, 2015).
“ICE 2016 will be a historic global event, as this conference will return to the United States after a 40-year hiatus,” Leal told him. “We are expecting the participation of 7,000-8,000 delegates, including Dr. Peter Agre (Nobel Laureate, 2003 - a strong advocate for science diplomacy, particularly Cuba-US relations) and Dr. Jules Hoffmann (Nobel Laureate, 2011), Dr. John Hildebrand, and many other distinguished scholars."
Bisset is heavily involved in the control of vectorborne diseases, including diseases transmitted by several mosquitoes, such as Culex quinquefasciatus, Anopheles albimanus, and Aedes aegypti. He focuses his main research on ecology, dynamic population of insects, insecticide resistance, and resistance mechanisms.
The recipient of some 18 international and national awards, Bisset has been published his research in 106 scientific papers. Since 1990, he has participated in more than 45 technical activities as an adviser on malaria and dengue vector control in Latin American countries, and is a frequent lecturer in Cuba and other countries.
ICE is held once every four years in different countries around the world. Next year it will be held simultaneously with the annual meetings of the Entomological Society of America, the Entomological Society of Canada, and other organizations.
“Each Congress provides a forum for scientists, researchers, academia, technicians, government, and industry representatives to discuss the latest research and innovations in the many diverse fields of entomology, to share expertise in their specific fields of interest, and to present their research and products,” said Richard Levine, ESA's communications program manager, in a news release. “The week-long meetings allow participants to meet others from around the world with similar focus areas and to form important networks to collaborate and share knowledge, with an overarching goal of supporting and protecting the world's population through better science."
For more information about ICE 2016, access http://ice2016orlando.org.