UC Davis environmental toxicologist/biochemist Sascha Nicklisch will discuss how to disarm the defenses of the varroa mite, a major pest of honey bees, at his UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology seminar on Monday, Oct. 23.
His seminar, "Disarming the Defenses of Resistant Pests: Rational Design of Inhibitors for ABC Transporter Proteins in the Varroa Mite," is set for 4:10 p.m. in Room 122 of Briggs Hall.
The seminar also will be on Zoom. The link:
"Varroa mites pose a significant global menace to honey bee colonies, causing colony losses, ecological imbalances, and food scarcity," says Nicklish, an assistant professor, UC Davis Department of Environmental Toxicology, in his abstract. "Escalating pesticide resistance in these mites necessitates innovative strategies to bolster acaricide effectiveness. "Small molecule synergists that heighten mite susceptibility to acaricides offer a promising solution by amplifying chemical treatment efficacy, thus reducing overall pesticide demand."
A first-generation college graduate, Nicklisch received his master's degree in biological sciences in 2005 from the University of Cologne, Germany, and his doctorate in protein biochemistry at the University of Cologne in 2008. He postdotoral fellowships at the University o Osnabruek, Germany, and at UC Santa Barbara.
Nicklisch joined the UC Davis faculty in July 2018 after serving as a staff scientist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and as a part-time lecturer at UC Dan Diego. His resume also includes senior scientist in analytical biochemistry for Phenex Inc. and consultant for August Therapeutics, Inc., both in the greater San Diego area.
Nicklisch said he "was drawn to teach at UC Davis because of its reputation for research in environmental and human toxicology. I feel like this area of science has barely had its surface scratched and I am excited to pioneer further developments in the field. My research interests focus on understanding why industrial chemicals and other toxicants enter and accumulate in humans and other animals and plants."
"Our main research focuses on understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying chemical uptake and distribution in humans and other organisms," he writes on his website. "The Nicklisch Lab is interested in determining levels of drugs and environmental chemicals in different types of foods and to biochemically characterize their interactions with protective drug transporters, including P-glycoprotein, MRP1 and BCRP. Current efforts in the lab focus on investigating possible drug-pollutant and pollutant-pollutant interactions with P-glycoprotein other drug transporters on a molecular and organismal level."
"The Nicklisch Lab," he relates, "has demonstrated expertise in a broad range of traditional lab techniques to determine structure and conformation of proteins, including NMR and EPR spectroscopy and Circular Dichroism spectrometry. In addition, we have a proven track record of developing and optimizing new biochemical assays and analytical tools to determine enzyme and transporter function and kinetics. Our lab has pioneered the field of toxicokinetic interactions of environmental chemicals with drug transporters as novel targets for understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying chemical bioaccumulation."
Seminar coordinator is Brian Johnson, associate professor, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. For Zoom technical issues, he may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The list of seminars is posted here.
The open house set from 1 to 4 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 23 in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building, 455 Crocker Lane, UC Davis. It's free and family friendly and parking is also free. It's an opportunity for attendees to learn more about the "nuisance insects," and ask questions.
The line-up, as of today:
- Lynn and Bob Kimsey of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology faculty. Lynn, a hymenopterist, is a UC Davis distinguished professor who teaches general entomology and the biodiversity of California insects and serves as the director of the Bohart Museum, and Bob is a forensic entomologist, specializing in public health entomology; arthropods of medical importance; zoonotic disease; biology and ecology of tick-borne pathogens; tick feeding behavior and biochemistry.
- Carla-Cristina "CC" Melo Edwards, a first-year doctoral student in the laboratory of medical entomologist-geneticist Geoffrey Attardo, associate professor of entomology, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. She will share her expertise on mosquitoes and show specimens.
- Moriah Garrison, senior entomologist and research coordinator with Carroll-Loye Biological Research (CLBR). She is scheduled to show live ticks and mosquitoes and field questions.
- Educators from the Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito and Vector Control District. They will discuss mosquitoes and their program
- Nazzy Pakpour, UC Davis alumna, Novozymes scientist and author of Please Don't Bite Me
- Jeff Smith, curator of the Bohart Museum's ;Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths) collection. He will display butterfly specimens collected globally. Also on the "Lep crew" are Bohart volunteers Greg Kareofelas and Brittany Kohler.
Petting Zoo. A popular attraction is the live petting zoo; visitors are encouraged to hold or get acquainted with live Madagascar hissing cockroaches and stick insects
Family Arts and Crafts Activity. The event will be held outside and will highlight two collecting techniques, said Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator.
- Clear Packing Tape Art. "Clear packing tape is a good way to collect small, hard-to-see insects," Yang said. "Glitter will mimic small insects like fleas or bed bugs. Putting the tape on white paper makes it easy to look at them under a microscope and for this craft it will make a pretty card."
- Making insect collecting or "kill" jars. Participants are asked to bring a recycled jar. "This should be a clean and dried glass jar with a wide, metal top--think jam, pickle, peanut butter jars. Four to 16-ounce jars work well. We will have some on hand as well, but recycling is good! We will fill the bottom with plaster of paris and let it dry and teach people how to use it properly, using something like nail polisher remover containing ethyl acetate as the killing agent. A UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology video explains the procedure: https://youtu.be/s8yCzFGzbn8?si=71sNmA5l8NyP1zj0
It's Labor Day but "The Girls" continue to work.
"The Girls" are the honey bees, a great example of a matriarchal society. How many workers (girls) do you see foraging on your flowers? But inside the hive, "The Girls" are nurse maids, nannies, royal attendants, builders, architects, dancers, honey tenders, pollen packers, propolis or "glue" specialists, air conditioning and heating technicians, guards, and undertakers. And the males? Their responsibility is to mate with a virgin queen--and then they die.
In his newly published book, Honey Bee Biology (2023 Princeton University), UC Davis bee scientist Brian Johnson of the Department of Entomology and Nematology, covers everything from molecular genetics, development, and physiology to neurobiology, behavior, and pollination biology. It's meant for bee scientists, social insect biologists, beekeepers, and those who are just eager to learn more about honey bees.
Honey bees "evolved from the hunting wasp, a group of four clades of wasps that typically provision their offspring with insects or spiders," Johnson writes in his opening chapter, 'Natural History, Systematics and Phylogenetics.' Probably the most well known of the hunting wasps (to the nonentomologist) are the mud daubers that build their nests on the sides of people's homes."
"The split between these wasps and what evolved into the bees occurred about 120 million years ago," Johnson writes.
Basically, wasps continue to be meat-eaters, but honey bees "have gone vegetarian," as Johnson points out.
When you see honey bees foraging on flowers, gathering nectar and pollen, just remember that they are vegetarians. And especially, on Labor Day, remember how "The Girls" tend to the needs of the queen, their sisters and their brothers.
As a society, we could learn a lot from honey bees.
National Honey Bee Day is Saturday, Aug. 19 and you're invited to join this oh-so-sweet celebration!
Launched in 2009, National Honey Bee Day takes place on the third Saturday of August. The event originated when a small group of beekeepers petitioned the U.S. Department of Agriculture "to honor" the honey bees and beekeepers.
HoneyLove.org, a Los Angeles-based honey bee educational non-profit organization, manages National Honey Bee Day and boosts "the educational outreach, community action and advocacy efforts to protect the health and well-being of honey bees," according to its website.
California Master Beekeeper Program. While we're honoring bees, we should also honor the UC Davis-based California Master Beekeeper Program (CAMBP), founded and directed by Elina Lastro Niño,associate professor of Cooperative Extension and a member of the faculty of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
"The award seeks to highlight teams who actively develop and encourage faculty/staff partnerships and as a result are able to make notable contributions to UC Davis that contribute to the University's Mission of Teaching, Research, and Service; and who exemplify outstanding achievement and/or service," according to Staff Assembly officials.
At the time of the nomination (March 15, 2023), CAMBP had
- Given 32,000 hours of volunteer time (Beneficial Educational Experiences) and served 186,630 individuals in education, outreach and beekeeping mentorship. If a volunteer hour is worth $26.87, the program has given $859,840 back to the state of California in service of science-based beekeeping and honey bee health.
- Enrolled 185 Honey Bee Ambassadors (a level established in 2021), 494 Apprentice, 93 Journey level candidates and certified 20 Master level beekeepers. There are 12 members in 2023 participating in their Master Capstone projects.
- Recorded 3752 hours since the team began tracking Continuing Education Experiences in 2020.
- Embarked on a project updating a safety manual.
National Honey Bee Day is also a good opportunity to learn about bees, our mini-agricultural workers that pollinate one-third of the food we eat.
The book includes 16 color plates (images contributed by Kathy Keatley Garvey), spotlighting a bee egg, bee castes, swarms and almond pollination, among others.
Princeton University Press bills the book as "the first up-to-date general reference of its kind published in decades. It is a must-have resource for social insect biologists, scientifically savvy beekeepers, and any scientist interested in bees as a model system."
Among his many honors and recognitions, Johnson was part of The UC Davis Bee Team that won the 2012 Team Award from the Pacific Branch, Entomological Society of America. Other members: Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen (1944-2022); systematist/hymenopterist Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and professor of entomology; native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp (1933-2019) emeritus professor of entomology; and pollination ecologist Neal Williams (now professor) who specializes in pollination and bee biology.
Alarm bells went off. Scientists joined forces to target the mosquito and stop it from spreading throughout the state.
Enter the UC Davis laboratory of medical entomologist-geneticist Geoffrey Attardo, associate professor, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
And now, enter the exit seminar of doctoral candidate Erin "Taylor" Kelly of the Attardo lab.
She'll present a seminar on "Investigating the Metabolic Underpinnings of Pyrethroid Resistance in California Aedes aegypti" at 3:30 p.m., Thursday, June 8 in 366 Briggs Hall and also on Zoom.
"The world's primary arboviral vector, Aedes aegypti, was reintroduced into California in 2013," Kelly says in her abstract. "Its re-establishment throughout the state appears to be due, in part, to the failure of pyrethroid insecticides applied for adult mosquito control. My dissertation work examines 1) population dynamics within the state 2) how mosquito metabolism is impacted by pyrethroid exposure and 3) how a pyrethroid susceptible reference strain of Aedes aegypti differs physiologically from a wild California Ae. aegypti population. This research describes a successful story of ˆexclusion and generated novel hypotheses about the physiological underpinnings of the fitness costs and tradeoffs observed in insects withthepyrethroid resistance phenotype. Additionally, I explore novel targets for insecticide synergism."
UC Davis medical entomologist Anthony Cornel, who leads the Mosquito Control Research Laboratory in Parlier, works with Taylor on insecticide resistance in mosquitoes. “Taylor's PhD project is challenging as she endeavors to tease apart the biochemical and genetic factors that cause resistance to some commonly used insecticides to control Aedes aegypti," wrote Cornel, a member of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology faculty. "Ae. aegypti is considered the second most dangerous insect worldwide because of its role in transmission of dengue, yellow fever, Zika and Chikungunya viruses which cause considerable morbidity and mortality. Hence, it is an important organism to study especially to eventually improve measures to control this mosquito."
Active in leadership activities and the Entomological Society of America, Kelly is president of the Entomology Graduate Student Association (EGSA), and served two terms as president of the UC Davis Equity in STEM and Entrepreneurship (ESTEME). She was a member of the UC Davis team that won the national Entomology Games championship in 2022. The UC Davis team included three other doctoral candidates from the Department of Entomology and Nematology: Zachary Griebenow of the Phil Ward lab, captain; Jill Oberski of the Ward laboratory; and Madison “Madi” Hendrick of the Ian Grettenberger lab. The event is a lively question-and-answer, college bowl-style competition on entomological facts played between university-sponsored student teams. The question categories include biological control, behavior and ecology, economic and applied entomology, medical, urban and veterinary entomology, morphology and physiology, biochemistry and toxicology, systematics and evolution integrated pest management and insect/plant interactions.
Other highlights of her years pursuing a doctorate at UC Davis include:
- She was selected the recipient of the 2022 Student Leadership Award from the Pacific Branch of ESA, which encompasses 11 Western states, parts of Canada and Mexico and several U.S. territories. (See news story)
- She won a first-place award at the 2021 Entomological Society of America (ESA) meeting with her poster, “Metabolic Snapshot: Using Metabolomics to Compare Near-Wild and Colonized Aedes aegypti.”
Kelly, who joined the Attardo lab in 2018, holds a bachelor of science degree in biology, with a minor in chemistry, from Santa Clara University, where she served as president of the campuswide Biology Club and led STEM projects, encouraging and guiding underrepresented students to seek careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
Her future plans? "I'm pursuing vector ecologist positions within California vector control programs!"