The UC Davis Entomology Graduate Student Association (EGSA) has decided to provide travel funds to entomology undergraduates who want to present their research at entomological associations.
So EGSA has established the Jude Plummer Travel Grant, so named because Plummer, a pest control manager in Florida, donated $50 “to be used for such a cause,” said EGSA president Jenny Carlson, a Ph.D. candidate in the Vector Genetics Lab.
This week EGSA announced the first recipient of the Jude Plummer Travel Grant: Daren Harris, who received his bachelor of science degree in entomology from UC Davis in December.
Harris will receive a travel grant of $300 to present his poster on the spotted wing drosophila at the 2013 meeting of the Pacific Branch of the Entomological Society of America, set April 6-11 at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe, Stateline, Nev.
Harris' poster is titled “Seasonal Trapping of Drosophila suzukii (Diptera: Drosophilidae) in a Multi-Crop Setting.” He works as a lab assistant in the Frank Zalom lab, studying with professor Zalom and Ph.D candidate Kelly Hamby.
“We will be providing an opportunity for UC Davis undergraduates to apply twice a year for a total of $300, depending on funds,” Carlson said. “We will have one in the winter and one in the fall.” Those who want to support the project can donate to the EGSA fund or buy entomology t-shirts.
Harris, who minored in fungal biology and ecology, plans to pursue a master’s degree in forest entomology. “I would like to study insect-fungus interactions with a focus on inoculation of forest pests with entomophagous fungi,” he said. “Many of these pests are gregarious so capture, inoculation and release of a few individuals may disseminate the pathogen to a large population.”
“My ultimate goal is to work with the USDA forest service. I would love nothing more than to make my living tromping around in beautiful north American forests."
Harris said he initially wanted to be a taxidermist. “As a child I had bookshelves filled with biological oddities and ‘specimens,’ including dead animals in jars of formaldehyde. My collection included everything from pet rodents to road kill. A high school biology teacher turned me on to entomology and I was hooked. The capture and curation of insects satisfied that childhood collection impulse, with the added bonus of frolicking through fields with a net.”
Hoover, who received her doctorate in entomology from UC Davis in 1997, will discuss “Co-Evolution in a Host Baculovirus System” from noon to 1 p.m. in 366 Briggs Hall.
She will be in California in conjunction with her trip to Ventura to participate in the Gordon Research Conference, an international forum for the presentation and discussion of frontier research in the biological, chemical, and physical sciences, and their related technologies.
“The gypsy moth has a long co-evolutionary history with its host specific baculovirus, Lymantria dispar NPV,” Hoover said. “As a result, the gypsy moth has evolved counter-defenses against the virus, while in return the virus has strategies for increasing its own fitness at the expense of the host. For example, anti-viral defenses include apoptosis of infected cells (despite viral inhibitor of apoptosis genes), while the virus manipulates host behavior to enhance transmission to new hosts, which is an example of the extended phenotype.”
While a grad student at UC Davis, Hoover studied with major professors Bruce Hammock and Sean Duffey (1943-1997). After a one-year postdoctoral position at UC Berkeley, she joined the faculty of the Penn State University Department of Entomology in 1998.
Her research program at Penn State focuses on invasive species, including development of trapping techniques for the Asian longhorned beetle; gut microbial symbionts of the Asian longhorned beetle and hemlock woolly adelgid; functions of key viral genes in transmission of the gypsy moth baculovirus and anti-viral defenses; and biological control of hemlock woolly adelgid.
Hoover is the lead author of the highly acclaimed research, “A Gene for an Extended Phenotype,” published Sept. 9, 2011 in Science. It was selected for the Faculty of 1000 (F1000), which places her work in its library of the top 2 percent of published articles in biology and medicine.
Honey bees can't get enough of the New Zealand tea tree, which, as its name implies, is a native of New Zealand.
Our favorite New Zealand tea tree is Leptospermum scoparium keatleyi. It's the tallest and rangiest variety of the Leptospermum scopariums--that's one of the reasons we like it. The other reason, the main reason, is that it bears our family name. New Zealand sea skipper/horticulturist Capt. Edward John "Ted" Keatley (1875-1962) discovered it and named the variety "keatleyi."
According to the Maritime Museum in Wellington, New Zealand, Capt. Keatley once commanded 28 of the Northern Steam Ship Company's vessels. He also was considered an authority on the flora of the Auckland province.
In June 1961, the Royal Horticulture Society awarded Capt. Keatley the "Award of Merit" for his discovery of the keatleyi, or "royal pink manuka."
Bees that visit Leptospermum scoparium produce a special honey called "manuka honey," prized for its health benefits, including its antibacterial and antifungal properties.
We prize the blossoms for their sheer beauty and the prevalence of bees.
Symphony in the almond blossoms...
There's a wild almond tree planted in a field off Bee Biology Road at the University of California, Davis, that's incredibly beautiful.
Honey bees from the nearby apiary at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility reunite on the blossoms, each bee seemingly vying for the best pollen to take back to her hive.
The tree is not quite in full bloom, but don't tell that to the bees. We captured a few images of them in flight, a moving symphony performance in the almonds.
Molecular neurobiologist Anupama Dahanukar, assistant professor at UC Riverside, will speak on "Taste Receptors and Feeding Preferences in Insects" at the UC Davis Department of Entomology seminar from 12:10 to 1 p.m. in Room 1022 of the Life Sciences Addition, corner of Hutchison and Kleiber Hall drives.
UC Davis assistant professor Joanna Chiu, who studies the molecular genetics of animal behavior, will host the seminar, which is scheduled to be recorded for later viewing on UCTV.
The seminar will focus on the common fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, exciting research under way in the Dahanukar lab.
"We are interested in the molecular neurobiology of feeding behavior," Dahanukar says. "Insects use highly diverse groups of gustatory receptors (Grs) to taste the chemical world and determine the palatability of potential food sources. In Drosophila melanogaster, the 68 receptors of this family are expressed in complex combinatorial patterns in taste neurons. In previous studies we and others identified a highly conserved clade of eight Gr genes that encode sugar receptors. Although some of these have been linked to detection of sweet compounds by genetic analysis, their precise functions are still poorly understood. Little is also known about how stimuli that are typically not rich in sugars trigger highly attractive gustatory responses in Drosophila."
"Using genetic and evolutionary analysis, we recently found that Gr64e, a receptor in this clade, plays an essential role in feeding preference for beer and other yeast fermentation products. We identified that Gr64e is necessary for neuronal and behavioral responses to an abundant component of yeast and fermentation products, glycerol. Moreover, Drosophila species that carry a polymorphism disrupting Gr64e function have reduced behavioral preference for beer, suggesting that Gr64e may contribute to specific evolutionary variations in appetitive selectivity. Ectopic expression of the Gr64e receptor in an olfactory neuron is sufficient to confer glycerol sensitivity. We have extended this ectopic expression system to identify that each sweet Gr protein serves as a determinant for recognition of unique but overlapping subsets of sweet tastants."
"We have also obtained functional expression of a taste receptor from the mosquito Anopheles gambiae in Drosophila. We are now poised to further investigate taste detection and Gr function in Drosophila and other insects."
A noted scientist, Dahanukar received a National Science Foundation Career Award in 2012; the Whitehall Foundation Award in 2011; and the 2000 Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award. She was awarded a Government of India National Merit Scholarship in 1990.
Dahanukar holds a bachelor of science degree in life sciences from Bombay University, India; a master's degree in environmental management from Duke University, Durham, N.C.; and a doctorate in genetics in 1999 from Duke University, where she studied patterning along the anterior-posterior axis in Drosophila embryos. In 1999, she joined the laboratory of John Carlson at Yale University to pursue post-doctoral training in the molecular neurobiology of insect chemosensory systems. Dahanukar joined the faculty of the UC Riverside Department of Entomology in 2009.