Chemical ecologist Elvira Simone de Lange, a postdoctoral researcher in the Christian Nansen lab, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, has received a three-year $249,878 federal grant that involves using drones to detect the early infestation of spider mites, and then targeting the pests with biocontrol agents.
The grant is from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Program.
Her research project, "Unmanned Aerial System (UAS)-Guided Releases of Predatory Mites for Management of Spider Mites in Strawberry," aims to identify “very subtle differences in reflectance of the strawberry canopy, indicating spider mite-induced stress,” she said. “Releasing predatory mites in these spider mite hotspots will increase their efficacy as biocontrol agents, enhancing sustainability of spider mite management practices in strawberry.”
In her successfully funded proposal, she noted that “Farmers are requesting in-depth testing of how UAS can be integrated successfully into strawberry production to improve management practices.” UAS, or drones, can monitor large areas in a short period of time. California produces 88 percent of the nation's strawberries, with an annual value of approximately $2.6 billion.
The three-year project, now underway through March 2010, also explores the use of drones as a novel, effective way of distributing the predatory mites.
The grant also calls for educational outreach programs, with hands-on workshops and lectures on spider mite sampling at grower and agriculture professional meetings throughout the California strawberry growing region. Growers outside this area will be reached through publications in trade journals and other grower media.
Multiple species of spider mites infest the state's strawberry fields. The twospotted spider mite, Tetranychus urticae, an annual pest of strawberries in all growing regions, is the predominant species in strawberries grown on the Central Coast, according to the UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program's Pest Management Guidelines (PMG), written by lead author and IPM specialist Frank Zalom, distinguished professor of entomology, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
The mites suck plant juices. The damage can result in decreased fruit size and yield. Mite-feeding symptoms include dense webbing, and dry, brittle and discolored leaves.
“Twospotted spider mite feeding is particularly damaging during the first two to five months following transplanting in late summer or fall,” according to the PMG.
A native of The Netherlands, de Lange joined the Nansen lab in March 2016. She received her bachelor's degree in biology, and her master's degree in plant biology from Utrecht University, The Netherlands. She earned her doctorate in chemical ecology from the University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland. Her first postdoctoral position was at Rutgers University, New Jersey, where she worked on insect resistance in cranberries.
Overall, she hopes her research meshing chemical ecology, entomology, plant-arthropod interactions and biological control in the fields of integrated pest management and precision agriculture solutions, will “lead to the development of novel, sustainable pest management practices.”
Carey, described as “a truly outstanding teacher,” was named a semifinalist and received a $1000 honorarium. Approximately 100 applicants began the initial process.
“Dr. James Carey epitomizes the scholar-teacher,” said Cherry Award committee member Kevin Dougherty, associate professor of sociology. “He is a prodigious author with multiple books and hundreds of research articles. Millions of dollars in grants have funded his research. Yet, Dr. Carey has done more than produce knowledge. He is an innovative, international leader in interdisciplinary teaching and learning. He is an entomologist who teaches courses on aging, crime, and war to classes ranging in size from 20 to 200 plus. Over a thousand instructional videos also feature Dr. Carey. Dr. James Carey is the type of exemplary scholar-teacher for which Baylor University's Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching exists.”
The Cherry Award program is “designed to honor great teachers, to stimulate discussion in the academy about the value of teaching, and to encourage departments and institutions to value their own great teachers.” Nominees are from all over the English-speaking world.
The three finalists, to present a series of lectures in the fall of 2017, are Heidi G. Elmendorf, biology, Georgetown University; Neil K. Garg, chemistry, University of California, Los Angeles; and Clinton O. Longenecker, leadership, The University of Toledo. Each receives $15,000, and the home department, $10,000, to foster the development of teaching skills. The winning professor, to be announced in spring 2018, will thus receive a total of $265,000, and $35,000 for his or her home department. (link finalists to http://www.baylor.edu/mediacommunications/news.php?action=story&story=178907)
Carey, who joined the UC Davis faculty in 1980, is nationally and internationally recognized for his innovative teaching program that centers on the strategic use of digital technology. He received the 2015 Distinguished Achievement in Teaching Award from the Entomological Society of America (ESA); the 2014 Distinguished Teaching Award from the Pacific Branch of ESA; and the UC Davis Academic Senate's 2014 Distinguished Teaching Award, an honor given to internationally recognized professors who excel at teaching.
First-of-its-kind research, published in Scientific Reports of the journal Nature by a nine-member team, including UC Davis agricultural entomologist Christian Nansen, indicated that attracting alternative hosts to parasitoids of rice insect pests, can help protect a rice crop. The players: a grass species, a planthopper, and an egg parasitoid.
The field and laboratory work, done in China, targeted the brown planthopper, Nilaparvata lugens, or BPH, the economically most important rice pest in Asia. Results showed that BPH densities were “significantly lower in the rice fields with the banker plant system compared to control rice fields without banker plant system,” the scientists said.
“Many people are familiar with the concept of a ‘trap crop'-- a sacrificial crop which is planted mixed in with or adjacent to an economically important crop and the trap crop serves to manipulate pests away by offering them a more attractive/suitable host alternative,” said Nansen, an assistant professor with the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. “The use of banker plants in pest management is similar to the use of trap crops, but banker plants typically have multiple ecological functions.”
The researchers planted a grass species, Leersia sayanuka, next to rice. It attracted a planthopper (Nilaparvata muiri), which does not infest rice.
Rice is the stable food of more than 50 percent of the global population, and 60 percent of the Chinese population. However, scientists concur that the world's rice production needs to increase drastically over the next three decades to meet the growing food demand in Asia. Growing concern over BPH outbreaks and higher pesticide usage led to the sustainable pest management study.
Titled “Use of Banker Plant System for Sustainable Management of the Most Important Insect Pest in Rice Fields in China,” the research is unique in that it is the first published study describing the attraction of alternative hosts to parasitoids of rice insect pests. In rice systems, previously published research involved planting sesame as a nectar source to promote the establishment and persistence of a predatory bug; and studies involving parasitoids.
BPH, found only in southeast Asia and Australia, feeds on the rice crop at all stages of plant growth and can also transmit two viruses, rice ragged stunt virus, and rice grassy stunt virus. Damage can commonly result in a 60 percent yield loss. An infestation is often called “hopper burn,” referring to yellow patches that soon turn brown.
Although BPH is not found in the United States, this kind of study “may be an approach to consider in California in the future if insecticide resistance continues to impeded effective insect control,” Nansen said.
Noting the importance of the banker plant system, Nansen said that banker plants “involve promotion of plant diversity to enhance pest self-regulatory ecosystem functions, such as predation and competition, to reduce susceptibility of agricultural crops to native and invasive pests. Also, banker plants “may provide resources, such as shelter, pollen and nectar or alternative preys to improve the establishment and persistence of beneficial insect populations used to control a specific pest.”
The first successful banker plant system, developed in 1977, involved tomato as the banker plant, a parasitoid and a whitefly.
Nansen is affiliated with both UC Davis and the Zhejiang Sustainable Pest and Disease Control, Institute of Plant Protection and Microbiology, Zhejiang Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Hangzhou, China.
Co-authors of the research paper include lead author Zhongxian Lu and colleagues Xusong Zheng, Yanhui Lu, Junce Tian, Hongxing Xu, all of the Zhejiang Sustainable Pest and Disease Control; and Pingyang Zhu, Facheng Zhang and Guihua Chen of the Jinhua (China) Plant Protection Station.
The study was jointly supported by the National Key Research and Development Program of China, Zhejiang Key Research and Development Program, and the Special Fund for Agro-scientific Research in the Public Interest.
Dr. Godfrey was internationally acclaimed for his research on rice and cotton. He was heavily involved in developing IPM to maintain the sustainability of California agriculture, seeking “to reduce the ‘footprint' of agriculture on the environment and society, and to advance the science of entomology and applied insect ecology.”
At UC Davis, he taught arthropod pest management and agricultural entomology. He developed IPM strategies for not only rice and cotton but for such field and vegetable crops as alfalfa, dry beans, timothy grass, melons, mint and onions.
A member of the entomology department since April 1991, Dr. Godfrey served as its vice chair in 2008, and also that year, as president of the Pacific Branch, Entomological Society of America.
“Larry was an outstanding contributor to the department, not only as a researcher and teacher, but also in the effective ways that he connected with clientele through outreach,” said Steve Nadler, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. “He was a member of our department's Executive Committee and I could always count on Larry for sound advice.”
“Being the two Davis faculty with agricultural entomology extension duties, Larry and I shared a lot over the last 25 years and he was my closest colleague in our department when he passed today,” said Extension entomologist and distinguished professor Frank Zalom, an IPM specialist and a past president of the Entomological Society of America. “I've always respected him for being quiet and humble despite his many accomplishments. He filled the shoes of several faculty members who retired before he came to Davis and he did his job exceptionally well. It's hard for me to imagine not having him nearby as the go-to entomologist for field crops, although his research, extension, and, most importantly his graduate students, will serve as his legacy for years to come.”
Said professor Jay Rosenheim: “Larry was a researcher who always placed the farmer's needs first. This is why he was so highly valued by California's growers of rice, alfalfa, cotton, and vegetable crops, and why his research program grew and grew over his years at Davis. He was also an excellent communicator, and epitomized the role of researcher/educator in the Land-Grant system. Despite his illness, he continued to work tirelessly on his pest management research, refusing to compromise on his commitments. His dedication to our profession was truly remarkable.”
Yolo County Farm Advisor Rachael Long, who collaborated with Dr. Godfrey on dry bean research, said: “He was an incredibly dedicated field crop entomologist and terrific colleague with team spirit, and his loss leaves a big hole in our lives and I'll miss him.”
“What I admired about Larry was his stoicism,” said former graduate student Mohammad-Amir Aghaee, now a postdoctoral fellow at North Carolina State University. “Nothing seemed to wear down his resolve.”
Dr. Godfrey, born July 7, 1956, grew up on an Indiana farm, and was a 1974 graduate of Salem (Ind.) High School. He received two entomology degrees from Purdue University, West Layfayette: his bachelor's degree in 1978 and his master's degree in 1980. He earned his doctorate in entomology in 1984 from the University of Kentucky, Lexington, studying with major professor Kenneth Yeargan. He was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi, Sigma Xi and Gamma Sigma Delta.
Said Yeargan: "As I stated in my letter of recommendation for Larry many years ago when he applied for the position at UC Davis, Larry was an outstanding 'synthesizer' of information. He had a knack for looking at a problem, thinking through all the ramifications, and coming up with logical, practical ways to approach the problem – and usually finding a solution. He will be missed by many." It was at the University of Kentucky where Larry met his wife-to-be, Kris Elvin, then a postdoctoral scholar.
Dr. Godfrey began his career as a product development specialist for Union Carbide Agricultural Products Co., Inc., Research Triangle, N.C., before joining the University of Nebraska's Department of Entomology from July 1987 to March 1991 as a research associate.
“Growing up on a farm in Indiana, I saw first-hand the ‘battles' that farmers and homeowners face trying to produce crops and grow landscape plants in competition with insects,” Dr. Godfrey recalled in an earlier interview. “I became fascinated with insects through the typical ‘bug-in-a-jar' hobby. A county Natural Resources Field Day cultivated my interest in entomology and this led to enrollment in the 4-H entomology project. By the time I was several years into the 4-H project, I was transporting a dozen wooden collection boxes full of pinned insects to the county fair.”
“My first summer job involved surveying for Japanese beetles as they progressed across Indiana. This was an invasive insect in the Midwest in the mid-1970s; this same insect is of serious concern now in California an invasive pest that could damage many crops—such as grapes—and ornamentals—such as roses.”
Dr. Godfrey was one of 24 founding members of the California Invasive Species Advisory Committee, appointed by then Secretary A.G. Kawamura of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, to recommend “ways to mitigate non-native species' effects on resources throughout the state.” The goal: to protect California's environment, food systems, human health and economy from invasive and destructive pests, plants and diseases.
At UC Davis, Dr. Godfrey zeroed in on invasive insect and mite pests such as silverleaf whitefly, panicle rice mite, and rice water weevil. In addition, he targeted scores of pests, including alfalfa weevils, blue alfalfa aphids, spotted cucumber beetles, and two-spotted spider mites. He researched plant response to insect injury, refining economic thresholds.He also researched various pest management tactics, including biological control, reduced risk insecticides, mating disruption, cultural control, and host plant resistance.
Highly respected by his peers, Dr. Godfrey received the Excellence in IPM Award in 2005 from the Pacific Branch, Entomological Society of America (PBESA), followed by the PBESA Distinguished Achievement Award in Extension in 2010. Nationally, he was elected chair of ESA's Section F (crop protection) in 2002.
For many years, he served as the advisor to the UC Davis Linnaean Games teams, which won regional (PBESA) and national (ESA) championships in college-bowl type competitions involving insect questions. He himself was on the championship 1983 University of Kentucky team, the second annual Linnaean Games in the North Central Branch of ESA “where it all started,” he said. “It was a few years before the other branches started this competition and several years before they did it at the national meeting.”
As part of his Extension work, Dr. Godfrey wrote publications, regularly met with growers, and delivered scientific talks at workshops. He addressed the annual California Rice Field Day for 25 years and also spoke at alfalfa IPM workshops, among others. He was a subject editor for the Journal of Cotton Science and the Journal of Integrated Pest Management. In addition, Dr. Godfrey served on many departmental, college and UC Agriculture and Natural Resources committees.
Funeral services will be held Saturday, April 29 in Salem, Ind., where he grew up. In lieu of flowers, the family asks for donations to pet rescue groups or groups that support young people interested in entomology or agriculture. A memorial and celebration of his life will take place at UC Davis in the near future.
He is survived by his wife, Kris Godfrey; his mother, Laura Godfrey; and sister, Carol Green and family. He was preceded in death by his father, Don Godfrey.
The Sacramento March for Science on Saturday, April 22, a march for solidarity with the national March for Science in Washington, D.C., is strongly endorsed by the 7000-member Entomological Society of America (ESA), a non-partisan scientific society founded in 1889.
“It is a really important time to be supporting science and scientists in the United States,” said UC Extension entomologist emerita Mary Lou Flint, the ESA's "point person" for the Sacramento march. "This march is nonpartisan and fully sponsored by the ESA.”
In Sacramento, participants will gather at 10 a.m. at Southside Park, 2115 6th St. for a pre-march program. At noon they will begin marching to the Capitol Mall, 1315 10th St. The post-march program will take place there from 1 to 4 p.m.
April 22 is also Earth Day and the same day as the 103rd annual UC Davis Picnic Day. Flint said she hopes that UC Davis faculty, staff, students and others interested in supporting science will join her in the march, or in part of the event.
“We'll have pins and stickers and signs,” said Flint, who may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org for further information. Flint, who holds a doctorate in entomology from UC Berkeley, retired in June 2014 as an Extension entomologist and as a leader in the UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management (UC IPM) Program: she served as the associate director for Urban and Community IPM.
The guiding principles of ESA "recognize that the discipline of entomology is global, that all of its members must be able to participate fully in the organization, and that entomologists must collaborate with government and the public to maximize the positive benefits insect science offers to the world," said ESA in a press release. "The stated goals and principles of the March for Science align closely with these strategic principles of ESA.”
ESA is the largest organization in the world serving the professional and scientific needs of entomologists and people in related disciplines. Its members are affiliated with educational institutions, health agencies, private industry, and government. Members are researchers, teachers, extension service personnel, administrators, marketing representatives, research technicians, consultants, students, and hobbyists.
ESA has created a web page to share information on how members can participate in the March for Science in Washington, D.C., or at satellite events around the world. ESA is also planning a pre-March for Science webinar on April 19 at 2 p.m. (EDT). Speakers from ESA, Lewis-Burke Associates, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) will discuss the logistics of the March for Science, best practices for non-partisan advocacy on behalf of science, and advice for productively engaging with the media during and after the March.
In addition, ESA members and others can use an ESA template to print their own "Why I March for Science" sign. They are encouraged to take a selfie with it, and send it to email@example.com. "Why I March" pictures will be shared on social media in the days leading up to the event.
The March for Science is not only intended to raise awareness, but to celebrate science and to support and safeguard the scientific community. The goals include advocating for open, inclusive, and accessible science, affirming scientific research as an essential part of a working democracy and, in general, supporting scientists.
From the Sacramento March for Science web page: "Recent policy changes have called science-based information into question. Science is not a partisan issue. Science is fact-based and provides objective results. It is time for people who support scientific research and evidence-based policies to take a public stand and be counted!"
"We come from all walks of life. We are of different races, religions, gender identities, sexual orientations, abilities, socioeconomic backgrounds, political perspectives, and nationalities - and we are united through our respect for science and our belief that it is crucial to the health and success of our society and our planet. Our diverse opinions, perspectives, and ideas are critical to the scientific process and are our greatest strength."