With that, Pamela Marone, entomologist turned entrepreneur, will provide an overview of what she calls "the market drivers toward sustainable food production and where different technologies fit in."
The occasion: her seminar on Friday, March 9 at the University of California, Davis.
Marrone, the CEO and founder of Marrone Bio Innovations (MBI) of Davis, will speak on "Overview of Discovery and Development of Natural Products for Pest Management and the Entrepreneurial Experience."at 11 a.m. in Room 1022 of the Life Sciences Building, located on the corner of Hutchison Drive and Kleiber Hall Drive.
Sponsoring the presentation are the UC Davis Biotechnology Program, the College of Biological Science-Section of Molecular and Cellular Biology, and the College of Engineering.
Marrone, who holds a bachelor of science degree in entomology from Cornell University and a doctorate in entomology from North Carolina State University, is an innovator supreme. An international expert in agricultural biotechnology and bioscience, she founded three natural product pest management companies in Davis.
Marrone founded MBI in 2006 "to discover and develop effective and environmentally responsible natural products that fill unmet needs for pest, weed and water resource management." She raised $40 million in venture capital to fund the company.
Along the way, she and her companies have won scores of awards and she's been featured in the national media, including front-page coverage in the Wall Street Journal (November 2005). Her vision: "We will be the world leader in natural product innovation. We will make natural, effective, safe, environmentally friendly products the mainstream future of pest management." (See her biosketch and values on her website.)
Pamela Marrone has been there, done that and she's still doing it. Magnificently. That's why we're all looking forward to her talk on Friday.
If you're planning to hike the hills around Bodega Head in Sonoma County, watch out for the bears.
The woolly bear caterpillars, that is.
Last Sunday, with the temperature hovering around 70 degrees, the woolly bears were everywhere. They were munching on the gray-green leaves of Lupinus arboreus (yellow bush lupine), not yet blooming. We also spotted them on yellow mustard and wild radish, both members of the Brassicaceae family and both abloom.
If you look closely at these little caterpillars, they seem to be having a bad hair day. They look as if they just encountered a jolt of static electricity.
They're also known as the larvae of Ranchman's Tiger Moth (Platyprepia virginalis). Once they become moths, they do not resemble woolly bears any more.
Rick Karban, professor of entomology at UC Davis, has published a number of research papers on these herbivores.
"Platyprepia virginalis caterpillars are dietary generalists and feed on multiple host species within a single day," he wrote recently in Ecological Entomology. "We conducted field experiments to evaluate their performance on diets consisting of only their primary food, Lupinus arboreus, or diets consisting of L. arboreus plus other acceptable host species."
"We found that relative growth rates and rates of survival were higher when they fed on mixed diets compared to lupine only."
That feeding behavior we saw, too. A lupine lunch, with a touch of mustard and radish.
Bee specialists Neal Williams and Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology are among those quoted in a comprehensive news story, "Hives for Hire," published March 3 in the Los Angeles Times.
"Almond trees are exploding with pink and white blossoms across the vast Central Valley, marking the start of the growing season for California's most valuable farm export," wrote LA Times reporter Marc Lifsher in the lede.
Indeed they are.
This is a $3-billlion-a-year industry and the acreage amounts to some 750,000 acres. Approximately 2.6 million colonies from across the country are trucked into California for the almond pollination season.
"Without the honey bees...the (almond) industry doesn't exist," Williams told Lifsher. "We need those bees. We need them to be reliable, and we need them at the right time."
Williams, a pollination ecologist who joined the UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty in 2009, is an expert on bees, especially native bees (honey bees are not native; they were brought here in the 1600s by the European colonists).
An assistant professor of entomology, Williams heads a busy lab of graduate students and post-doctoral students. He just returned from Fukuoka, Japan, where he was one of the featured speakers at the International Symposium on Pollinator Conservation.
Also quoted in the LA Times piece was honey bee guru Eric Mussen, Extension specialist with the UC Davis Department of Entomology since 1976.
Mussen discussed bee health with Lifsher and the collapse disorder (CCD), the mysterious malady characterized by adult bees abandoning the hive. Mussen regularly provides updates about bee health to national and state bee conferences and at beekeeper association meetings. Mussen writes the bimonthly from the UC apiaries and the periodic Bee Briefs, both available free on the UC Davis Department of Entomology website.
So, what's the word? Mussen tells his constituents that beekeeping is a complex issue, as is CCD, which he attributes to multiple factors, including pests, parasites, pesticides, diseases, malnutrition and stress.
Yolo County-based beekeeper Henry Harlan of Henry's Bullfrog Bees, who maintains some 2400 hives, said it well when he told Lifsher that beekeeping is an inexact science. "If you meet a beekeeper who says he knows it all, his bees will probably be dead next year."
Indeed, it's a sinking feeling to open your hive at winter's end and find it empty.
This year's event, set Wednesday, April 25 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Room 1031 of the Gladys Valley Hall, School of Veterinary Medicine, will include presentations on the historical, current and future efforts of malaria control, as well as updates on other vector biology research.
The UC Davis World Malaria Day is an opportunity "for students and researchers engaged in vector biology and genetics research to come together to discuss their research efforts,” said spokesperson Michelle Sanford, a postdoctoral scholar in the UC Davis Vector Genetics Lab.
The event supports World Malaria Day and the Roll Back Malaria Program in promoting education and research in the fight against malaria.
How did the UC Davis World Malaria Day observance originate? It was launched in 2007 by the (now folded) UC Mosquito Research Program, a UC Agricultue and Natural Resources program based in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and directed by medical entomologist Gregory Lanzaro. Lanzaro is now a professor in the Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology of the School of Veterinary Medicine.
For the last several years, the Vector Genetics Lab has funded the World Malaria Day observance through a National Institutes of Health training grant.
Lanzaro and his "blood brother" medical entomologist Anthony Cornel direct the Vector Genetics Lab research programs. They've been doing research in Africa together for years. Cornel is an associate professor in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and a mosquito researcher at the Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center, Parlier.
The target: malaria, a mosquito-borne disease caused by infected Anopheles mosquitoes transmitting Plasmodium parasites.
The bad news is that more than half of the world's population is at risk for malaria. According to the World Malaria Report 2011, more than 216 million cases of malaria and an estimated 655 000 deaths occurred worldwide in 2010. Children in Africa are the still most susceptible to malaria; a child dies every minute of the disease.
The good news: Due to investments in malaria control, malaria mortality rates have dropped by more than 25 percent globally since 2000. Statistics show that malaria deaths in Africa have been cut by one-third within the last decade, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
The strides we're making in tackling this massive killer are reflected in this year's World Malaria Day theme: "Sustain Gains, Save Lives: Invest in Malaria."
Sustain. Save. Invest. Well said.
The yellow-faced bumble bees are back!
And amid the throes of winter and the promise of spring.
On a trip Feb. 27 to Bodega Bay, we spotted two yellow-faced bumble bees (Bombus vosnesenskii) about two miles apart.
They were both foraging on "The Pride of Madeira" (Echium candicans) on a sunny, but wind-whipped day in this Sonoma County coastal town.
The camera lens, the strong wind and the erratic flight of the bumble bees didn't allow us to get close, but the purple spiked flowers made a delightful sight.
See more images of this bumble bee, found throughout western North America, on Bug Guide.