Why is that in a honey bee colony, workers can carry pollen but not the queen?
Well, scientists from Michigan State University and Wayne State University have discovered the answer.
They've isolated the gene that's responsible for leg and wing development, according to a news brief in Entomology Today, published by the Entomological Society of America (ESA). The 7000-member ESA, by the way, is headed by president Frank Zalom, integrated pest management specialist and professor of entomology at UC Davis.
The scientists' bee research is published in the current edition of Biology Letters.
“This gene is critical in making the hind legs of workers distinct so they have the physical features necessary to carry pollen,” said MSU entomologist Zachary Huang. “Other studies have shed some light on this gene's role in this realm, but our team examined in great detail how the modifications take place.”
"The gene in question is Ultrabithorax, or Ubx. Specifically, the gene allows workers to develop a smooth spot on their hind legs that hosts their pollen baskets. On another part of their legs, the gene promotes the formation of 11 neatly spaced bristles, a section known as the 'pollen comb.' The gene also promotes the development of a pollen press, a protrusion also found on hind legs, that helps pack and transport pollen back to the hive."
What the research team did was to isolate and silence Ubx, the target gene. "This made the pollen baskets, specialized leg features used to collect and transport pollen, completely disappear," Entomology Today reported. "It also inhibited the growth of pollen combs and reduced the size of pollen presses."
The scientists acknowledge that this won't provide a solution to Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). They think, however, that their research could lead to bees becoming better pollinators; they could carry larger pollen loads.
Speaking of loads, have you ever seen a bee so heavy with pollen that you wonder if she can lift off? It seems somewhat like a human being weighted down with a bowling ball.
The next time you observe a bee foraging, check out the pollen load. If you're lucky, you'll see the bee packing the pollen, adjusting the load before she buzzes off back to her colony.
Rachel Graham, a master's student in entomology at the University of California, Davis who loves photographing insects, recently submitted an image of a blue dasher, Pachydiplax longipennis, for the Entomological Society of America's 2014 World of Insects calendar.
Dashing news! It won a well-deserved spot in the calendar. It's the June "bug." The worldwide competition drew more than 400 photos from 84 photographers. Each attendee at ESA's 61st annual meeting, held Nov. 10-13 in Austin, Texas, received a calendar. (More calendars are available.)
Graham studies with integrated pest management (IPM) specialist Frank Zalom, newly inducted president of the nearly 7000-member ESA. (Zalom is only the second-ever ESA president from UC Davis.)
Graham captured the image at the Archbold Biological Station in Venus, Fla., in August 2010 when she was participating in a BugShot photography workshop organized by noted insect photographer/entomologist Alex Wild of Illinois. Wild, who received his doctorate in entomology from ant specialist Phil Ward, UC Davis professor of entomology, writes the popular Myrmecos blog and the Compound Eye blog for Scientific American.
Graham recalled that she photographed the blue dasher "on the very first day of the workshop" with her Canon 60D and a 100mm macro lens, shooting at an ISO of 200, f-stop of 6.3 and a shutter speed of 1/40. No flash. No tripod.
The dragonfly species is widespread throughout North America. It's common, but Rachel Graham's photo isn't!
This isn't Rachel Graham's first major photography honor, either. One of her images made the Cornell Ornithology Celebrate Urban Birds 2011 calendar. And earlier this year, she won the People’s Choice Award at the 6th annual UC Davis Graduate Student Symposium in Ecology. Her winning photo depicted a jumping spider eating a hover fly.
Graham, an IPM specialist who plans a career in science education and outreach, recalled that she "began photographing insects for a class assignment at UC San Diego in 2010, and have not been able to stop."
Let's hope she never does!
Some 3000 researchers, professors, graduate and undergraduate students, extension service personnel, administrators, research technicians, consultants, and others from around the globe will gather at the 61st annual lmeeting of the Entomological Society of America (ESA) "for four days of science, networking and fun," according to ESA spokesman Richard Levine. "This is the most important annual conference anywhere in the world for the science of entomology."
The theme: “Science Impacting a Connected World."
At the conclusion of the conference, integrated pest management specialist Frank Zalom, a professor in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, will assume the duties of president of the 6500-member organization. He'll preside over the 62nd annual meeting, to be held in 2014 in Portland, Ore.
Zalom will become the second UC Davis entomologist to head the international organization, which is comprised of members in educational institutions, health agencies, private industry and government. The first president from UC Davis was Donald McLean, former professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, who was elected ESA president in 1984.
Zalom has been heavily involved in research and leadership in integrated pest management (IPM) activities at the state, national and international levels. He directed the UC Statewide IPM Program for 16 years (1988-2001) and is currently experiment station co-chair of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU) National IPM Committee.
Zalom focuses his research on California specialty crops, including tree crops (almonds, olives, prunes, peaches), small fruits (grapes, strawberries, caneberries), and fruiting vegetables (tomatoes), as well as international IPM programs. The IPM strategies and tactics Zalom has developed include monitoring procedures, thresholds, pest development and population models, biological controls and use of less toxic pesticides, which have become standard in practice and part of the UC IPM Guidelines for these crops. In his three decades with the UC Davis entomology department, Zalom has published almost 300 refereed papers and book chapters, and 340 technical and extension articles. The articles span a wide range of topics related to IPM, including introduction and management of newer, soft insecticides, development of economic thresholds and sampling methods, management of invasive species, biological control, insect population dynamics, pesticide runoff mitigation, and determination of host feeding and oviposition preferences of pests. The Zalom lab has responded to six important pest invasions in the last decade, with research projects on glassy-winged sharpshooter, olive fruit fly, a new biotype of greenhouse whitefly, invasive saltcedar, light brown apple moth, and the spotted wing Drosophila. (See Frank Zalom's Video on Extending Orchard IPM Knowledge in California)
Zalom is a fellow of ESA, American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the California Academy of Sciences and is the recipient of scores of other high honors.
Meanwhile, if you're an entomologist or a wanna-be entomologist, Austin is the place to be Nov. 10-13.
Truly, "Science Impacting a Connected World."/span>
Indeed. Those attending the Bohart Museum of Entomology's open house on Saturday, Feb. 2, will see them--and see them feeding.
The Bohart Museum of Entomology is one of six museums or educational centers on the UC Davis campus holding an open house from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday. This is the second annual campuswide Biodiversity Museum Day, aka "Super Science Saturday," as it's the day before the Super Bowl. The other five are the Botanical Conservatory, Center for Plant Diversity, the Geology Museum, the Anthropology Museum, and the Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology. Maps will be available at each site. The event is free and open to the public.
Now, back to the bed bugs.
Danielle Wishon, an undergraduate student majoring in entomology, will be feeding her bed bug colony at 2 p.m. at the Bohart Museum, which is located in 1124 Academic Surge on Crocker Lane. Wishon is rearing a colony, now approaching 100 bed bugs, in a research lab in Briggs Hall.
"Aside from the fact that I find them visually adorable, I am interested in the current public panic over their current increase in population around the United States," said Wishon, who took control of the colony in October 2012. "The idea that several little animals will crawl up to you while you sleep and feed on your blood really disturbs most people, despite the fact that they do not transmit any disease."
Wishon, who studies with forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey and works in the Bohart Museum with director Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology, loves entomology. She's is a past president of the UC Davis Entomology Club and recipient of the department’s 2011 Outstanding Undergraduate Student Award.
"I think the general public would be very interested to see them feeding," Wishon said. "There is a lot of misinformation on the Internet about them, so it would also be a good opportunity for Q and A."
And speaking of Q and A, be sure to access the Entomological Society of America's bed bug resource page. You'll find information on "the menace in the mattress" (Cimex lectularlu) from all over the country, including right here at UC Davis. The UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program's Pest Note says:
"A single feeding may take up to 10 minutes, and feels like a pin prick, but because feeding usually occurs at night when people are asleep they are not aware they have been bitten until afterwards. However, saliva injected during the feeding can later produce large swellings on the skin that itch and may become irritated and infected when scratched. Swelling may not develop until a day or more after feeding, and some people do not show symptoms. Bed bugs currently are not considered to be disease carriers."
Make that several years.
Zalom, who just completed a year as the vice president-elect of the 6000-member Entomological Society of America (ESA), was installed as vice president of the organization at its meeting last month in Knoxville, Tenn. and is in line for the presidency.
So, his ESA commitment totals four years: first as vice president-elect, then as the vice president, then as president, and finally, past president. Each is a one-year term.
ESA, founded in 1889 and now headquartered in Lanham, Md., a suburb of Washington, D.C., draws members from all over the world. They're primarily in educational institutions, health agencies, private industry and government.
Zalom will be the second UC Davis entomologist to serve as ESA president. The first was Donald McLean, who held the top ESA office in 1986. Now an emeritus professor, McLean chaired the UC Davis Department of Entomology from 1974 to 1979 and served as dean of the Division of Biological Sciences from 1979 to 1986.
As ESA's new VP, Frank Zalom is already assuming a myriad of duties. He participated in the 2012 Council of Scientific Society Presidents (CSSP) conference held Dec. 8-10 in Washington, D.C.
ESA president Robert Wiedenmann, professor and head of the University of Arkansas Department of Entomology, and Zalom represented ESA at the meeting. The Council membership is comprised of presidents, presidents-elect and recent past presidents representing some 60 scientific federations and societies. The combined membership totals more than 1.4 million scientists and science educators.
Among the many speakers were Paula Apsell, senior executive producer of NOVA-TV, who led a discussion on “Building Pubic Appreciation for Science”; Ian Shipsey, physics professor at Purdue University, who spoke on “Higgs Boson: How It Imparts Mass”; Lori Garver of NASA, “Mars and Beyond—Exploring the Endless Frontiers”; and Millie Dresselhaus, professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, “Nanoscale Carbon Electron-Phonon Interaction.” Charles Vest, president of the National Academy of Engineering, keynoted the awards banquet on Dec. 9.
The CSSP contingent also met for a breakfast on Capitol Hill, interacting with congressional leaders, including chiefs of staff and senators.
According to a CSSP brochure, “The Council regularly develops national policy coordination recommended by its committees on issues of importance to the scientific community.”
Among those issues are science and mathematics education; university-based research; federal research and education budget; responsible conduct of science; merit review of federally supported science; unimpeded exchange of scientific information; magnifying public science literary; research on teaching and learning; and directions for 21st century science.
Now the ESA governing board is gearing up for its 61st annual meeting, set Nov. 10-13, 2013 (initially set for Nov. 17-20) in Austin, Texas. Also on the governing board from UC Davis is Michael Parrella, professor and chair of the Department of Entomology, who represents the ESA's Pacific Branch.
Theme of the 61st annual meeting? “Science Impacting a Connected World.”