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Bruce Hammock: Scientist Extraordinaire

Bruce Hammock, circa 1980
Bruce Hammock today
It's obvious that Bruce Hammock doesn't spend much time in a hammock.

Research lab, yes. With colleagues, postdoctoral researchers, graduate students and undergraduate students, yes.

Hammock, a distinguished professor of entomology at UC Davis who holds a joint appointment with the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center, has just been selected a  fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI), which honors academic invention and encourages translations of inventions to benefit society.

He is now one of five UC Davis NAI fellows, including Chancellor Linda P. B. Katehi, who was inducted in 2012; Jerry Woodall in 2013; and Kyriacos A. Athanasiou and M. Saif Islam), both elected this year with Hammock in the 170-member Class of 2014 fellows.

A member of the UC Davis faculty since 1980, Hammock has made major innovations in multiple fields. Most recently his laboratory found potent enzyme inhibitors that dramatically reduce inflammation, inflammatory pain and neuropathic pain. He is the founder and CEO of EicOsis, and through EicOsis, the compounds are in clinical trials for companion animals and the  Pre-Investigational tional New Drug Application (Pre-IND) Consultation Program  for neuropathic pain in human diabetics. Hammock is  developing both enzyme inhibitors and natural products as drugs for use in the United States and developing countries.  In agriculture, his laboratory developed the first recombinant viruses as greeninsecticides, while in environmental chemistry, they pioneered the use of immunodiagnostics for environmental analysis and biosensor development, currently applying alpaca nanobodies to sensor technology.

Hammock is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, a fellow of the Entomological Society of America, and the recipient of the Bernard B. Brodie Award in Drug Metabolism, sponsored by the America Society for Pharmacology and  Experimental Therapeutics. He directs the campuswide Superfund Research Program, National Institutes of Health Biotechnology Training Program, and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) Combined Anayltical Laboratory.

Hammock, who received his bachelor of science degree magna cum laude from Louisiana State University in entomology and chemistry, and his doctorate from UC Berkeley in entomology and toxicology, working in xenobiotic metabolism, describes himself as a basic scientist who “sometimes fines something interesting.” He attributes his success to “having wonderful colleagues and students.”

He also describes himself as “an avid, if incompetent hiker and climber,” and occasionally teaches white-water kayaking with UC Davis Outdoor Adventures.

 By the way, he and his lab also holds an annual water balloon battle outside Briggs Hall every summer. It's usually amounts to a 10-minute battle because the Hammock lab works hard and plays hard.

NAI, founded in 2010, now has 414 fellows representing more than 150 prestigious research universities and governmental and non-profit research institutions.  

Included:  61 presidents and senior leadership of research universities and non-profit research institutes, 208 members of the other National Academies, 21 inductees of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, 16 recipients of the U.S. National Medal of Technology and Innovation, 10 recipients of the U.S. National Medal of Science, 21 Nobel Laureates, 11 Lemelson-MIT prize recipients, 107 Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and 62 fellows of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

Congratulations, Professor Hammock! Getting elected “is a high honor bestowed upon academic innovators and inventors who have demonstrated a prolific spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions and innovations that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development, and the welfare of society,” NAI officials said.

Bruce Hammock is a new fellow of the National Academy of Inventors. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Bruce Hammock is a new fellow of the National Academy of Inventors. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Bruce Hammock is a new fellow of the National Academy of Inventors. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Bruce Hammock in a hammock--something you don't see often! (Photo by Cindy McReynolds)
Bruce Hammock in a hammock--something you don't see often! (Photo by Cindy McReynolds)

Bruce Hammock in a hammock--something you don't see often! (Photo by Cindy McReynolds)

Posted on Friday, December 19, 2014 at 9:35 PM

Don't Miss Bohart Museum Open House Dec. 20: Insects and Art

Greg Kareofelas: Bohart associate, naturalist, photographer. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
When you use the words "insects," "art" and the "Bohart Museum of Entomology" in the same sentence, you immediately think of the artistic/scientific team of Fran Keller and Greg Kareofelas.

And you'll meet them and see their amazing work at the Bohart Museum of Entomology's open house from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 20 in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building, Crocker Lane, UC Davis campus. The event, appropriately themed "Insects and Art," is free and open to the public.

Keller, who received her doctorate in entomology from UC Davis this year, and Kareofelas, a Bohart associate (volunteer) and naturalist (he specializes in butterflies and dragonflies), will staff a table at the museum. Together they've created insect posters (think dragonfiles and butterflies), insect-themed t-shirts and a children's book, "The Story of the Dogface Butterfly." The book, focusing on California's state insect, the California dogface butterfly, features text by Keller, photos by Kareofelas and Keller; and illustrations by UC Davis graduate Laine Bauer. The educational book is available in the Bohart Museum's gift shop.

Fran Keller: entomologist, artist, teacher and author (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Keller, a graduate of Sacramento City College, earned her UC Davis doctorate in entomology,   studying with major professsor Lynn Kimsey, Bohart Museum director and UC Davis professor of entomology. Keller now teaches at Sac City. She's a talented teacher and an enthusiastic scientist who specializes in beetles, but she really likes everything science-based.

Like Keller, Kareofelas is known for his enthusiasm and fascination with insects. His volunteer association with the Bohart Museum dates back 25 years; that's how long he has donated specimens to the museum and assisted with projects.  He's collected moths and butterflies in California, Nevada and South America. He's reared numerous butterfly species, including California dogface, Gulf Fritillaries, monarchs and swallowtails. In rearing them, he's able to see and share the life cycle (egg, larva, chrysalis and adult). This skill enables him to tell what egg and what caterpillar will turn into what butterfly. That's an identification skill not many have.

Both Keller and Kareofelas enjoy photographing insects. (Check out Kareofelas' image of overwintering lady beetles (aka ladybugs).

The Bohart Museum open houses are always family-oriented. The family activity on Dec. 20 will be crafting small insect sculptures out of wire and beads, said Tabatha Yang, the Bohart's education and outreach coordinator.

This poster is the work of Fran Keller and Greg Kareofelas.
Among other art displayed at the open house will be that of:

  • Diane Ullman, professor of entomology and co-founder and co-director of the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program. Ullman and colleague Donna Billick, co-founder of the program, taught Entomology 001 students how to fuse art with science. Their work is displayed around campus and beyond.
  • Students from Art 11, a beginning printmaking class taught by lecturer Bryce Vinkorov of the UC Davis Department of Art and Art History. The class borrows educational drawers from the museum and then creates works of art inspired by the assortment of insects. Vinkorov says: ""My classes have used bugs from the Bohart as inspiration for their linocut prints for the past thee years. They are fascinated by the variety of color and body shapes of these bugs. The larger color prints are linocut reductions. I am very thankful that the Bohart lets this kind of cross-pollination happen."
  • Kathy Keatley Garvey, communications specialist for the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology and an avid insect photographer.  One of her macro images of a flameskimmer dragonfly graces the Entomological Society of America's 2015 world insect calendar.
  • Nicole Tam, an entomology undergraduate student and artist. Her work includes insect-themed drawings and paintings.
  • The late Mary Foley Benson, a former Smithsonian Institution scientific illustrator who lived the last years of her life in Davis, and worked for faculty in the Department of Entomology (now the Department of Entomology and Nematology).
  • Tom Roach of Lincoln, photographer, and Leo Huitt of Woodland, wood sculpture. Their work is on permanent display in the Bohart.

The museum, founded by noted entomologist Richard M. Bohart (1913-2007), houses a global collection of nearly eight million specimens, and is also the home of the seventh largest insect collection in North America, and the California Insect Survey, a storehouse of the insect biodiversity.

Special attractions include a “live” petting zoo, featuring Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks and tarantulas. Visitors are invited to hold the insects and photograph them. The museum's gift shop, open year around, is stocked with  T-shirts, sweatshirts, books, jewelry, posters, insect-collecting equipment and insect-themed candy.

The museum holds open houses throughout the academic year. Its regular hours are from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. The museum is closed to the public on Fridays and on major holidays. Admission is free. 

The remaining schedule of open houses:

  • Sunday, Jan. 11: “Parasitoid Palooza,” 1 to 4 p.m.
  • Sunday, Feb. 8: “Biodiversity Museum Day,” noon to 4 p.m.
  • Saturday, March 14: “Pollination Nation,” 1 to 4 p.m.
  • Saturday, April 18: UC Davis Picnic Day, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Sunday, May 17: “Name That Bug! How About Bob?” 1 to 4 p.m.
  • Saturday, July 18: “Moth Night,” 8 to 11 p.m.

More information is available by contacting (530) 752-0493 or Tabatha Yang, education and public outreach coordinator at tabyang@ucdavis.edu

 

Overwintering lady beetles, aka ladybugs, in Colusa County. (Photo by Greg Kareofelas)
Overwintering lady beetles, aka ladybugs, in Colusa County. (Photo by Greg Kareofelas)

Overwintering lady beetles, aka ladybugs, in Colusa County. (Photo by Greg Kareofelas)

This children's book,
This children's book, "The Story of the Dogface Butterfly," is the work of Fran Keller, Greg Kareofelas and Laine Bauer.

This children's book, "The Story of the Dogface Butterfly," is the work of Fran Keller, Greg Kareofelas and Laine Bauer.

Posted on Thursday, December 18, 2014 at 5:54 PM

Daily Life For Master Gardeners

Weedy Weather

By Andrea Peck

 

Hot, cold, drizzle. Hot, wind, rain! Make up your mind, weather! This year has been the most schizophrenic of years. One minute it is apocalyptically warm, my face purple-red from sun irritation. Rapid aging is imminent. The next we are getting monsoon-style rains that partner with gale force winds. Make no mistake about it, this year we have Weather.

And there's one thing that's lovin' it: my weeds.

By loose definition, a weed is any plant that you pretend does not exist in your yard. It is an uninvited intruder that sucks the very marrow out of your soil, stealing nutrients, water, soil and space. Often the term is associated with a certain strength, an incalcitrant insistence that it reside where you least want it to. Weeds are plants on the spectrum. They are prone towards oppositional defiance disorder. They proliferate assiduously (one small plant can have 1000 seeds). Their large families appear here, there and everywhere. They are formidable, tolerating your conditions with aplomb. You have to admire their pluck.

But, how do we handle them?  I thought I was doing the right thing during the summer by loading on the mulch, but these new weeds are undeterred. They are thriving.

The first step in weed reduction, (I say reduction, because you are unlikely to eliminate all weeds) is to identify your enemy. One way to do this accurately is to utilize the UCIPM Weed Photo Gallery:

http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/weeds_intro.html

This link allows you to identify your plant with a series of categorized photos and descriptions.

After you identify the offending weed, you can glean information about its lifecycle and habitat. From there you can decide on a course of action. Knowing whether your weed is annual or perennial makes a difference. For example, you may have a particular nuisance weed that you are ready to waste a whole pound of herbicide on. But, if you find out that this weed is at the end of its lifecycle you might save the effort and allow it to run its course.

Most weeds, no matter the sort, are best plucked early on. Whatever your method, strike early - ignoring the problem and allowing the weed to grow into a large, robust and fertile plant is a mistake. Certainly letting it get to the point of flowering is a recipe for disaster.

Mowing, hand picking, hoeing, tilling, mulch and landscape fabrics fall under this blanket term of mechanical methods, though mulch and landscape fabrics are preventatives also.  We all know that mulch is a must, but did you realize that the particle size of your mulch is important? Choose mulch that is medium sized. Large blocky wood chunks allow water and light through. The larger spaces also accommodate those wind-blown seeds, allowing them to settle in and sprout. Mulch that is made from material that is overly small provides a nice bed for seed germination.  One problem is that perennial weeds are often able to overtake the suppressing power of mulch. Be aware that some varieties of mulch deplete soil of nitrogen temporarily.

Mowing is a good solution for broad leaf plants and annual weeds. Perennials often take several years of mowing before the problem is controlled. Tilling and hoeing are suitable methods, but care must be taken with neighboring plants that you want to keep – over tilling can damage roots which slows plant growth or destroys the plant.

Black plastic is a fine solution for annual plants, but perennials may suffer because the plastic does not allow for adequate air and water circulation. Weed cloth adds an extra layer of protection underneath your mulch. The thickness prevents light penetration and is usually made from material that resists weeds underneath the surface.

Chemical methods or herbicides, are used to control, suppress or kill weeds by interrupting plant growth. Before using an herbicide, it is important to read and understand the label and follow directions carefully. Only recommended amounts should be used. Herbicides should not be used on plants that are not included on the label.

As a last note, there are many more methods that work towards reducing weeds in your garden. But when the weather is tumultuous, the chance of weed growth rises exponentially. Suddenly you find yourself unable to control what is watered and what is not. Weed seeds get pulled into the atmosphere, fly for miles and somehow land in your own Garden of Eden. Ah, the circle of life.

Certainly, you cannot control Mother Nature and this year she travels via the Pineapple Express, so batten down your hatches and watch for strange growth in spring.

Posted on Wednesday, December 17, 2014 at 9:05 PM

Great ESA Student Debate Topic: Neonics

A sick honey bee. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
It was great to see the Entomological Society of America (ESA) select "neonicotinoids" as a student debate topic for its recent meeting in Portland, Ore.

Bee health is a challenge, and this hot topic tied in with ESA President Frank Zalom's theme "Grand Challenges Beyond the Horizons."  Zalom, who just completed his presidential term and is now serving as past president, is a distinguished professor of entomology at the University of California, Davis, and an integrated pest management specialist.

Debate topics are always lively and this one was no exception. The teams are given eight months to practice for the 45-minute debate. The end result: their work is published in the ESA journal, American Entomologist.

 "Should the agricultural use of neonicotinoids be banned?" Graduate students from the UC Davis Department of Entomology were given the "con" side and Auburn University, Alabama, the "pro side."

From all accounts, it was a fantastic debate, with both sides making key points. The UC Davis team, captained by Mohammad-Amir Aghaee, successfully argued that a ban on the insecticides in agriculture “will not improve pollinator health or restore populations, based on current science. Neonicotinoids are important for control of many significant agricultural and veterinary pests. Part of the solution is to develop better regulations that will protect the health of pollinators and retain the use of an important IPM tool.”

UC Davis won the debate, and then went on to win the overall ESA student debate championship for the second consecutive year.

“Neonicotinoids are important for control of many significant agricultural and veterinary pests,” Aghaee said at the onset. “Part of the solution is to develop better regulations that will protect the health of pollinators and retain the use of an important IPM (integrated pest management) tool.” The team also argued successfully that neonicotinoids (also known as neonics) are not all “created equal.”

 The insecticide, chemically similar to nicotine, is implicated in the mass die-off of pollinators.  The European Union recently adopted a proposal to restrict the use of three pesticides belonging to the nenicotinoid family (clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiametoxam) for a period of two years.  In addition, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that by January 2016, it will ban the use of seeds treated with neonicotinoid pesticides and the use of crops improved through biotechnology throughout the 150 million acres managed by the National Wildlife Refuge System.

In addition to Aghaee,  the UC Davis team included graduate students Margaret "Rei" Scampavia, Ralph Washington Jr., and Daniel Klittich. Michael Parrella, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, served as their advisor.  The Auburn team, captained by Olufemi Ajayi, included Adekunle Adesanya, Julian Golec, Matt Burrows, Scott Clem and alternate Zi Ye. Associate professor David Held served as their advisor.

The protocol included a seven-minute statement by each team; cross-examinations; rebuttals; and questions from the judges and audience. 

The UC Davis team cited three main points:

  • Pesticides are IMPORTANT tools used in modern agriculture
  • Neonicotinoids were registered as reduced risk pesticide to replace the organophosphates, carbamates, and pyrethroids
  • Banning neonicotinoids would increase of use of pesticides that have known non-target effects

The UC Davis entomologists agreed that acute and chronic studies "have shown that neonics are toxic to honey bees and bumble bees (Blacquiere et al. 2012)" but argued that “all neonics are not created equal (Brown et al. 2014)." They cited “inconsistent results with field-realistic doses (Cresswell et al. 2012)" and noted that “many other factors have been documented as contributing to pollinator decline (Epstein et al. 2012).”

It's not just insecticides that are killing bees, the UC Davis team pointed out. They listed the varroa mite (Varroa destructor),  vectored pathogens, and the acaricides, antibiotics and fungicides that are directly added to the colony. They also mentioned American foulbrood and Nosema bombi; inadequate honey bee nutrition; insufficient food substitute; habitat fragmentation; land-use changes; and the increasing demand for pollination changes.

The UC Davis entomologists recommended that regulatory agencies need more thorough registration guidelines that incorporate bee toxicity data for all pesticides (Hopwood et al. 2012). This would encompass chronic toxicity, sublethal effects and synergistic effects. Another recommendation: mandate better management practices that follow IPM principles that protect bees on crops (Epstein et al. 2012). This would include banning certain application strategies, using less toxic neonicotinoids, and encompass the essential education and communication.

The UC Davis team summarized its argument with “There is NO definitive scientific evidence that neonicotinoids are the primary cause of pollinator declines. Neonicotinoids are important reduced risk pesticides for management of some of our most damaging pests. Neonicotinoids should be better regulated, not banned." They concluded: “Given the current state of knowledge, banning neonicotinoids is a premature and disproportionate response to a complex issue. This requires holistic scientific inquiry and interpretation, and cooperation among stakeholders. Any changes must be based on science rather than opinion, current trends, or fear.”

The Auburn team argued that neonicotinoids are causing the death of bees essential for pollinating our food crops, and that the use of neonicotinoids should end. They outlined six key points:

  • Critical time for pollinators in the United States
  • Lethal and sub-lethal effects
  • Prevalence and exposure
  • Effects on other pollinators
  • Risk-assessment
  • Food Quality and Protection Act (FQPA) as a precedent

Expanding on the fact that this is “a critical time for pollinators in the United States,” the Auburn team pointed out that honey bees pollinate $15-20 billion worth of crops in the U.S., and $200 billion worldwide; that approximately $3 billion worth of crop pollination services are provided by native bees; and that CCD likely has many contributing factors but many of those are enhanced by neonicotinoids. They said that the honey bee population is declining. In 1947, the United States had 6 million bee colonies and today, it's down to 2.5 million.

The Auburn team keyed in on lethal and sublethal effects of neonics:  synergistic interactions with other pesticides, including DMI (demethylation inhibitor) fungicides; increased susceptibility to pathogens (Nosema spp.); decrease in foraging success; decrease in overwintering queen survival; learning impairment consequences; and reproductive inhibition. They also called attention to prevalence and exposure to neonicotinoids. They discussed the neonicotinoid residues found on bee-pollinated crops and plants by various means of exposure: seed coating; foliar spray, soil drench, trunk injections; length of residue (soil vs. foliage and length of bee exposure); and single exposures resulting in season-long impacts. They also said the multiple means of exposure due to application can lead to multiple routes of exposure within bees: via pollen, nectar, guttation fluid and extrafloral nectaries.

In their concluding statement, the Auburn team said that current tools for risk assessment may not be adequate; and that limiting neonicotinoid use will not harm agriculture--"it will open the door for more sustainable agriculture and new insecticides." They emphasized that we must save our pollinators, especially in the United States. "The United States is a special case--globally there is an increase in bee colonies; however, the United States is at a critical point at which bee pollination services are being threatened irreversibly."

One of the several swaying arguments that led to UC Davis winning the debate was that not all neonics are created equal, and thus, they should not all be lumped together as "an equal" and all be banned.

The UC Davis team received a $500 cash award, a plaque and a perpetual trophy engraved with UC Davis. ESA president Frank Zalom presented the awards.

Next year's ESA meeting takes place Nov. 15-18 in Minneapolis. Its theme, chosen by ESA President Phil Mulder, professor and head of the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology at Oklahoma State University, is "Synergy in Science: Partnering for Solutions." He says that the theme "represents a collaborative effort with the other societies, but genuinely keeps us focused on our three strategic principles; 1) our social responsibility to develop ALL members, 2) exploring global partnerships and relationships within our science, and 3) expanding our influence around the world to maximize the impact that entomology has on improving the human condition and our knowledge of the world around us."

The UC Davis team included (from left) Margaret “Rei” Scampavia, Ralph Washington Jr., Jenny Carlson, captain Mohammad-Amir Aghaee and Danny Klittich. At far right is ESA president Frank Zalom of UC Davis who presented the team with its award. (Photo by Trav Williams of Broken Banjo Photography)
The UC Davis team included (from left) Margaret “Rei” Scampavia, Ralph Washington Jr., Jenny Carlson, captain Mohammad-Amir Aghaee and Danny Klittich. At far right is ESA president Frank Zalom of UC Davis who presented the team with its award. (Photo by Trav Williams of Broken Banjo Photography)

The UC Davis team included (from left) Margaret “Rei” Scampavia, Ralph Washington Jr., Jenny Carlson, captain Mohammad-Amir Aghaee and Danny Klittich. At far right is ESA president Frank Zalom of UC Davis who presented the team with its award. (Photo by Trav Williams of Broken Banjo Photography

The Auburn University team included (from left) alternate Zi Ye, and members Carl Clem, Julian Golec, Adekunle Adesanya, Matthew Burrows, and Olufemi Ajayi, captain.
The Auburn University team included (from left) alternate Zi Ye, and members Carl Clem, Julian Golec, Adekunle Adesanya, Matthew Burrows, and Olufemi Ajayi, captain.

The Auburn University team included (from left) alternate Zi Ye, and members Carl Clem, Julian Golec, Adekunle Adesanya, Matthew Burrows, and Olufemi Ajayi, captain.

Posted on Wednesday, December 17, 2014 at 4:14 PM

5 Ways NOT to Poison Friends & Family During the Holidays

Guacamole and salsa shouldn't be left out for longer than 2 hours.

‘Tis the season for gathering with friends and family and eating. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or Festivus for the rest of us, many of us invite people to our homes during the holidays and leave food out to graze. Leaving...

Posted on Wednesday, December 17, 2014 at 1:25 PM

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