Professor Frank Zalom (right) an integrated pest management (IPM) specialist with the UC Davis Department of Entomology for three decades, was among the 503 people selected as fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
In California alone, 54 University of California scientists were named fellows for "efforts toward advancing science applications that are deemed scientifically or socially distinguished."
Ironically, this comes the day after Gov. Jerry Brown proposed a budget that slashes $500 million from the UC system. UC President Mark G. Yudof, calling it a sad day for California, yesterday pointed out that if the proposed budget is approved, for the first time in UC's 143-year history, student tuition revenue will surpass what the state contributes to the university's core operating budget.
It's bad-news-for-pests because of the good work that entomologists like Frank Zalom and his colleagues are doing. Some of the pests that Zalom and his lab target are the greenhouse whiteflies, olive fruit fly, light brown apple moth, and the spotted wing Drosophila.
Zalom, former director of the UC Statewide IPM Program (16 years), is known internationally for his IPM expertise. Indeed, AAAS singled him out for his “distinguished scholarly, educational and administrative contributions that have significantly advanced the science and application of integrated pest management in agriculture nationally and internationally.”
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 30-year career, 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.
So, it's the good, the sad and the bad....
The good (the AAAS fellows and their accomplishments), the sad (the proposed UC budget cuts) and the bad (bad days for pests because of the good that scientists do--and hopefully, will continue to do).
It's good to see so much interest in native bees and native plants.
At the UC Davis Department of Entomology, we're frequently contacted by folks throughout the country asking what to plant to attract pollinators--native bees, honey bees (honey bees not native; European colonists brought them over here in 1622), and other pollinators.
The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation has a wonderful list of native plants on its website. You click on your region and you'll be directed to a list.
If you poke around the Xerces Society website, you can find information on why native bee habitats are important and how to create native bee habitats. Also check out the pollinator handbook and the fact sheets.
Plant lists are available to download below in PDF format.
They're probably not, though. They're too busy doing research.
They're the UC Davis scientists who worked on a malaria-proof mosquito that just made Time Magazine’s “50 Best Inventions of 2010.”
It's listed as No. 1 in Time Magazine’s Health and Medicine Category.
Back pedal to July of 2010. The collaborative team of UC Davis and University of Arizona researchers published their work on their malaria-proof mosquito in the journal Public Library of Science Pathogens (PLOS).
The research drew international attention because globally, malaria infects some 250 million people annually and kills more than a million a year, primarily in Africa.
"A malaria-proof mosquito?" Could it be? Yes!
“The transgenic mosquitoes were developed at the University of Arizona and we performed the malaria parasite infection studies here at UC Davis,” said malaria researcher and professor Shirley Luckhart (above) of the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology and an advisor in the Entomology Graduate Program.
Among the 11 scientists co-authoring the paper were four UC Davis researchers: Luckhart; professor Edwin Lewis, who has a joint appointment in the Entomology and Nematology departments; Entomology doctoral student Anna Drexler who studies with major professor Luckhart; and postdoctoral scholar Nazzy Pakpour of the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology.
“This is the first time anyone has created a transgenic mosquito line that has two important features for malaria transmission control: (1) reduced lifespan, and (2) complete resistance to infection with the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum,” Luckhart said.
“We know that one mosquito phenotype,” Luckhart said, “might not be enough to block transmission – that is, selection could result in parasites that develop more quickly or are more virulent to overcome one or the other phenotype, but the chance that parasites could evolve to evade both would be very small. We’re working on the mechanism of anti-parasite resistance right now and we have some tantalizing results that suggest that the effect on lifespan and immunity are linked through some major metabolic changes in the transgenic mosquitoes.”
As of Jan. 7, their scientific paper, “Activation of Akt Signaling Reduces the Prevalence and Intensity of Malaria Parasite Infection and Lifespan in Anopheles stephensi Mosquitoes, has generated nearly 7000 article views and has drawn extensive news coverage.
In a July 17 news article headlined “Malaria-Proof Mosquito Created,” science writer Eric Bland of ABC News pointed out that scientists had “engineered a genetic ‘on switch' that permanently activates a malaria-destroying response.”
“If these mosquitoes,” Bland wrote, “are successfully introduced into the wild, they could prevent millions of people from becoming infected with life-threatening Plasmodium -- the parasite that causes malaria.”
Time Magazine reporter Jeffrey Kluger described 2010 as "a bad year to be a mosquito. The world's most annoying insect is responsible for 250 million cases of malaria per year — and 1 million deaths. But scientists...have genetically engineered a mosquito that's immune to the Plasmodium parasite, the malaria-causing agent it transmits with its bite. The next step is to make the new mosquito hardier than the ordinary kind, then release it into the wild (perhaps within 10 years), where it will displace the deadly variety."
Yes, indeed, 2010 was a very bad year to be a skeeter.
And the future for these blood-sucking insects (the females need a blood meal to develop their eggs) promises to be even worse.
Postdoctoral researcher Rebecca “Becky” Trout-Fryxell (right), who studies Culex and Anopheles mosquitoes with University of California, Davis medical entomologists Anthony Cornel and Gregory Lanzaro, just received an award designating her as one of the top young entomologists in the nation.
Trout-Fryxell won one of the five John Henry Comstock Graduate Student Awards presented at the Entomological Society of America’s 58th annual meeting, held recently in San Diego. The Southwestern Branch of ESA selected her at its most outstanding entomology graduate student in a region encompassing Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee, plus the U.S. territories of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The other four ESA branches—Pacific, Eastern, North Central, and Southwestern Branch—also each selected a recipient.
Trout-Fryxell works with population genetics of the West Nile virus vector Culex pipiens, and does research on the malaria mosquito, Anopheles gambiae.
Fryxell joined the UC Davis team in April of 2009. Cornel is an associate professor of entomology, with offices and labs at UC Kearney Agricultural Center, Parlier, and UC Davis. Lanzaro is a professor in the Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology, School of Veterinary Medicine.
Trout-Fryxell previously won a Isley-Duport Entomology Scholarship and was a member of the 2007 Linnaean Games National Championship team from the University of Arkansas. The Linnaean Games is a college bowl-type competition featuring questions about insects, entomologists and entomological facts.
Trout-Fryxell has published her research in Journal of Medical Entomology, Journal of American Mosquito Control, Emerging Infectious Diseases, Medical and Veterinary Entomology, among others, on topics ranging from mosquitoes and ticks to bed bugs.
Trout-Fryxell received her master’s degree in entomology from the University of Kentucky, Lexington, where she studied with major professor Grayson Brown. Her research focused on reducing mosquito populations in the peridomestic environment.
She received her doctorate in entomology from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, last May. Studying with major professors Dayton Steelman and Allen Szalanski, she completed her dissertation on the distribution and occurrence of ticks in Arkansas, also examining tick-host pathogen interactions.
The four other winners of the coveted John Henry Comstock Awards:
Pacific Branch: Ashfaq Sial, Washington State University
North Central Branch: Anna Fiedler, Michigan State University
Southwestern Branch: Joe Lewis, University of North Texas
Eastern Branch: Gaylord Desurmont, Cornell
Back, in 2008, mosquito researcher Christopher Barker of the William Reisen lab at UC Davis won the Comstock award from the Pacific Branch.
Davis is definitely a good place to be for mosquito research!
Unless you're in Galveston, Texas.
The 2011 North American Bee Conference and Trade Show is taking place Jan. 4-8 in Galveston.
They arrived from all parts of the world to bee "Together for a Sweet Future"--their theme.
This event is a joint effort of the American Beekeeping Federation, American Honey Producers Association and the Canadian Council to produce what the organizers say is "the most innovative beekeeping conference in North America."
Among those participating:
- American Association of Professional Apiculturists (AAPA)
- American Bee Research Conference (ABRC)
- Apiary Inspectors of America (AIA)
- National Honey Packers and Dealers Association (NHPDA)
One of the speakers is bee breeder-geneticist Susan Cobey, who has a dual appointment with the University of California, Davis and Washington State University. Her topic: "The UC Davis and WSU Stock Importation Project."
She just returned from teaching queen bee insemination classes in New Zealand, where, she confides "Santa Claus wears shorts."
Participants in her insemination class were "mostly from the beekeeping industry," she said. The Plant & Food Research Institute is concerned about the Varroa mite, the nasty little parasite that's sucks the blood of the brood and adults. So building a better hygienic bee is crucial.
Honey bee guru Eric Mussen, Extension apiculturist in the UC Davis Department of Entomology, is also one of the key players at the conference.
One of the major concerns is still colony collapse disorder (CCD), the mysterious phenomenon characterized by adult bees abandoning the hive, leaving behind the brood, queen bee and stored food. Without the worker bees, the hives collapse.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) just released its 2010 Colony Collapse Disorder Report and the news is not good. General colony losses increased to 34 percent in 2010.
The report, produced by USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and National Institute of Food and Agriculture, indicated that before CCD, "losses averaged 15-20 percent annually from a variety of factors such as varroa mites and other pests and pathogens."It's a tough time for beekeepers struggling with CCD in their colonies. And now, California almond growers are gearing up for the almond pollination, which starts around Feb. 1. California has more than 700,000 acres of almonds and each acre requires two hives for pollination.
So, shortly after leaving the Lone Star State, many of the beekeepers will be heading for the Golden State.
Let's hope the outcome is golden.