That was molecular geneticist Yao Cai, entertaining with several other members of the UC Davis Entomology Graduate Student Association (EGSA). He was dressed--quite appropriately, too--as a fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, which he described as “our favorite model organism in Insecta!” (See Bug Squad blog.)
Entomology Today, a publication of the Entomological Society of America, picked up the story, headlining it as "Bugs and Beats."
Now fast forward...past the two-year pandemic...and way over to 2022. Time flies, right?
Cai now holds a doctorate in entomology (as of September) and will present his exit seminar, "How Do Flies Tell the Time of Day?" at the next UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology seminar, set Wednesday, Oct. 26.
He will deliver his seminar both in-person and virtually at 4:10 p.m. in 122 Briggs Hall. The Zoom link:
Cai will be introduced by his major professor, molecular geneticist and physiologist Joanna Chiu, professor and vice chair of the department.
"This study highlights the importance of post-translational regulation of circadian rhythms," Cao noted. "Finally, together with previous studies in fungi and mammals, our results suggest a conserved feature in eukaryotic clocks by which transcriptional repressors recruit CK1s to modulate the activity of transcription activators."
A native of southeast Asia, Cai holds two degrees from China Agricultural University, Beijing: a bachelor of science degree (2014) in plant protection and a master's degree in entomology (2016).
What sparked his interest in entomology? "The insect world presented to me the diversity of species when I was a kid," he related. "Since then, I have wondered about the origin and evolution of species. I was lucky to cultivate my interest as an undergrad and then a master student in Chinese Agricultural University. As a PhD student in the Department of Entomology andNematology at UC Davis, this interest expanded to the cellular and molecular mechanisms of evolution and adaptation. Upon my graduation in summer 2022, I continued my postdoctoral research in the Chiu lab. I hope this will prepare me to become a professor in biological sciences."
Cai completed an International Chronobiology Summer School (virtual) in 2020 and a UC Davis Comprehensive Course in Flow Cytometry in 2019. His publications include:
- Cai YD*, Joshi R*, Xia Y, Chiu JC, Emery P (2022) PERIOD phosphoclusters control temperature compensation of the Drosophila circadian clock, Frontiers in Physiology. 13: 888262.
- Cai YD, Sotelo SH, Jackson K, Chiu JC (2022) Assaying circadian locomotor activity rhythm in Drosophila, in “Circadian Rhythms” in NeuroMethods series. ed. M. Hatori, T. Hirota, and S. Panda. Springer Nature, Switzerland.
Cai Y.D., Y. Xue, C. Truong, J. Del-Carmen Li, C. Ochoa, J.T. Vanselow, K.A. Murphy, Y.H. Li, X. Liu, B.L. Kunimoto, H. Zheng, C. Zhao, Y. Zhang, A. Schlosser, J.C. Chiu (2021). CK2 inhibits TIMELESS nuclear export and modulates CLOCK transcriptional activity to regulate circadian rhythms. Current Biology 31(3): 502-514.
- Cai, Y.D., J.C. Chiu (2021). Timeless in animal circadian clocks and beyond. FEBS Journal (Online ahead of print). doi: 10.1111/febs.16253.
Abrieux, A., Y. Xue, Y. Cai, K.M. Lewald, H.N. Nguyen, Y. Zhang, J.C. Chiu. (2020). EYES ABSENT and TIMELESS integrate photoperiodic and temperature cues to regulate seasonal physiology in Drosophila. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. U.S.A. 117(26): 15293-15304.
Active in academics, Cai served as a guest lecturer for Entomology 102 on the "Insect Nervous System" and for Entomology 10 on "Insect Circadian Rhythm." He also served as a teaching assistant for a number of UC Davis classes, including Applications, Values, and Ethics in Animal Research; Insect Physiology; Introduction to Biology: Ecology and Evolution; Introduction to Biology: Cell Functions; and Calculus for Biology and Medicine. In addition, he has assisted at Bohart Museum of Entomology open houses and at science program provided by Peregrine School, Davis.
Honored with a number of awards, Cai received a 2021 Chinese Government Award for Outstanding Self-Finance Students Abroad; a 2021 UC Davis Entomology W. Harry Lange, Jr. Memorial Travel Fund; 2021 UC Davis Marv Kinsey Scholarship; a 2020 Boroughs Welcome Fund Society for Research on Biological Rhythms (SRBR) Excellence Award; a 2020 UC Davis Sean and Anne Duffey and Hugh and Geraldine Dingle Research Fellowship; a 2019 UC Davis McBeth Memorial Scholarship; and a 2018 and 2017 UC Davis Henry A. Jastro Graduate Research Awards, among others.
Emily Meineke, assistant professor of urban landscape entomology, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, coordinates the department's seminars for the 2022-23 academic year. All 11 seminars will take place both person and virtually at 4:10 p.m. on Wednesdays in Room 122 of Briggs Hall except for the Nov. 9th and Dec. 7th seminars, which will be virtual only, she said. (See list of seminars)
For further information on the seminars or to resolve any technical difficulties with Zoom, contact Meineke at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You'll hear about a variety of insects when the international symposium, “Insect Olfaction and Taste in 24 Hours Around the Globe,” takes place beginning at 9 a.m., Pacific Daylight Time (PDT), Wednesday, Aug. 11.
The 24-hour Zoom symposium has already drawn more than 1100 registrants from 66 countries, according to UC Davis distinguished professor Walter Leal, one of the three co-hosts. It's free and open to all interested persons. You can register at https://bit.ly/3k68c2m.
The speakers will focus on a wide variety of insects, including three species of mosquitoes (Culex, Aedes and Anopheles); honey bee (Apis mellifera); fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster, Drosophila sechellia, and Drosophila suzukii); sand flies (the blood-sucking dipteran flies); cotton bollworm (Helicoverpa armigera); housefly (Musca domestica); cabbage butterfly (Pieris rapae); and the American cockroach (Periplaneta americana).
“We will have 15 invited (keynote) and 36 contribution presentations,” said Leal, who will host the PDT segment. One of the interviews will feature olfaction research pioneer Karl-Ernst Kaissling of Germany.
Co-hosts with Leal are Wynand van der Goes van Naters of Cardiff University, UK, who will host the British Summer Time (BST) segment; and Coral Warr of La Trobe University, Australia (formerly of the University of Tasmania), host of the Australia Eastern Standard Time (AEST) segment. The trio, along with Karen Menuz (PDT), Wei Xu (AEST), and Emmanuelle Jacquin-Joly (BST), will moderate the symposium.
“The attendees will be engaged by questions and answers,” announced Leal, a UC Davis distinguished professor with the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology and a former chair of the Department of Entomology (now the Department of Entomology and Nematology). “We will give priority to questions from students, postdocs, and early career professionals, but will attempt to address everyone's questions. Attendees can ask anonymous questions.” Many of the attendees would not otherwise have an opportunity to travel to an international symposium, he added.
The first segment--the PDT segment hosted by Leal--begins with a welcoming address by John Hildebrand of the University of Arizona, Foreign Secretary of the National Academy of Sciences. Presentations by Josefina del Marmol of The Rockefeller University, New York, and Jon Clardy of Harvard Medical School will follow. “There will be four keynote lectures and 10 contributed presentations,” Leal said.
The last presentation in this segment, by Ke Dong of Duke University, will bridge with the AEST segment, hosted by Warr. It will include two keynote lectures and 14 contributed presentations. Then, a keynote lecture by Richard Benton of the University of Laussanne will bridge with the BST segment, hosted by van der Goes van Naters. It will include six keynote lectures and 12 contributed presentations. After the last lecture by John Pickett of Cardiff University) the symposium returns to UC Davis for closing remarks.
One of the keynote speakers in the PDT segment is Zain Syed of the University of Kentucky, a former postdoctoral researcher in the Leal lab at UC Davis.
For a list of the keynote speakers, those who will give presentations, and other logistics, see the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology website.
The registrants hail from 66 countries: Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Denmark, Dominica, Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Hungary, India, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kenya, South Korea, Lebanon, Mexico, Mozambique, Nepal, Norway, Pakistan, Peru, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Réunion, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Tanzania, Cayman Islands, Czech Republic, The Netherlands, The Philippines, United Kingdom, United States, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, United States Minor Outlying Islands, Uruguay, and Vietnam.
For updates, videos and more information, follow Leal on Twitter at @wsleal2014.
So wrote scientists Karen Menuz and Pratyajit Mohapatra in research titled "Molecular Profiling of the Drosophila Antenna Reveals Conserved Genes Underlying Olfaction in Insects," published last fall in the journal G-3 (Genes, Genomics, Genetics). "Currently, little is known about the molecules supporting odor signaling beyond the odor receptors themselves."
The research drew widespread interest. Now Menuz, an assistant professor in the Department of Physiology and Neurobiology, University of Connecticut, will head to the University of California, Davis, next week to present a seminar to the Department of Entomology and Nematology.
Menuz will speak on "Molecular Basis of Insect Olfaction" at 4:10 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 8 in 122 Briggs Hall. Host is chemical ecologist Walter Leal, distinguished professor, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, and a former chair of the entomology department.
Her abstract: "Development of new insect control measures will require the discovery of novel molecular targets that can alter their olfactory capabilities. The past two decades have witnessed an explosion of research on the two insect odor receptor families, but nearly all odor receptors are poorly conserved. Therefore, my research focuses on molecules that are likely to play critical roles in olfaction in distantly related insect species. Recently, we have found that Amt/Rh ammonia transporters are essential for the sensing of ammonia, an odor released by humans and attractive to insect vectors of disease and other insects. These transporters are highly conserved and are expressed in the antennal transcriptomes of all insect species examined. To identify additional genes that may contribute to olfaction in the periphery, we carried out a computational screen in Drosophila to reveal genes whose expression in the antenna is greatly enriched compared to other tissues. Importantly, we found that most orthologs of the olfaction-candidate genes are expressed in the antennae of other species, including mosquitoes, ants, bees, and beetles. These candidates will provide a foundation for future studies investigating conserved mechanisms of odor signaling."
Menuz holds a bachelor's degree in genetics, cellular and developmental biology and a bachelor's degree in biophysical chemistry, magna cum laude, from Dartmouth College (1999), Hanover, N.H. She received her doctorate in neuroscience from the University of California, San Francisco, in 2007, working with advisor Roger Nicoll. Her thesis:"In Vivo Regulation of AMPA receptors by Their TARP Auxiliary Subunits."
Community ecologist Rachel Vannette, assistant professor, is coordinating the department's seminars. All seminars begin at 4:10 p.m. on Wednesday in 122 Briggs Hall.
Other seminar speakers scheduled for the month of January include:
Wednesday, Jan. 15
Corrie Moreau, Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.
Topic: "Piecing Together the Puzzle to Understand the Evolution of the Ants"
Host: Marshall McMunn, graduate student
Wednesday, Jan. 22
Sebastian Eves-van den Akker, University of Cambridge, UK
Topic: Nematology (to be announced)
Host: Shahid Siddique, assistant professor
Wednesday, Jan. 29
Elizabeth Crone, Tufts University, Medford, Mass.
Topic: Plant-insect interactions (to be announced)
Hosts: Neal Williams, professor; Rachel Vannette, assistant professor
Medical entomologist Geoffrey Attardo, assistant professor, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, has compiled a great line-up of speakers for the winter quarter. The Wednesday seminars, to begin Jan. 9 and continue through March 13, will take place from from 4:10 to 5 p.m. in 122 Briggs Hall. They are open to all interested person. Some seminars will be recorded for later posting.
First up on Jan. 9 is Brian Gress, a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of integrated pest management specialist Frank Zalom, distinguished professor of entomology in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology and a past president of the 7000-member Entomological Association of America. Gress will discuss the fruit fly, Drosophila suzukii: its host selection and resistance evolution.
The spotted-wing drosophila, a major agricultural pest, damages fruit in many California counties, according to the UC Statewide Integrated Pest Program (UC IPM). First discovered here in 2008, "it infests ripening cherries throughout the state and ripening raspberry, blackberry, blueberry, and strawberry crops, especially in coastal areas. It also has been observed occasionally attacking other soft-flesh fruit such as plums, plumcots, nectarines, and figs when conditions are right."
The adults are about 1/16 to 1/8 inch long with red eyes and a pale brown thorax and abdomen with black stripes on the abdomen, UC IPM says on its website. The males have a black spot toward the top of each wing. The females have not spots. They have "a very prominent, sawlike ovipositor for laying eggs in fruit."
The seminars, as of today, Dec. 20:
Wednesday, Jan. 9
Brian Gress, postdoctoral fellow in the Frank Zalom lab, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology
Title: "Host Selection and Resistance Evolution in Drosophila suzukii"
Host: Frank Zalom, distinguished professor of entomology, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology
Wednesday, Jan. 16
Sarah Stellwagen, postdoctoral researcher, University of Maryland
Title: “Toward Spider Glue: From Material Properties to Sequencing the Longest Silk Family Gene”
Hosts: Hanna Kahl, doctoral student in the Jay Rosenheim lab, and Jason Bond, Evert and Marion Schlinger Endowed Chair in Insect Systematics, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology
Wednesday, Jan. 23
Wednesday, Jan. 30:
Laura Burkle, assistant professor of ecology, Montana State University, Bozeman
Topic: Wild bees, interactions with flowers
Hosts: Pollination ecologist Neal Williams, professor of entomology, and Maureen Page, doctoral student in the Williams lab, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology
Wednesday, Feb. 6
Alan Hastings, theoretical ecologist and distinguished professor, UC Davis Department of Environmental Science and Policy
Title: "Stochasticity and Spatial Population Dynamics"
Host: Hanna Kahl, doctoral student in the Jay Rosenheim lab, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology
Wednesday, Feb. 13
Antoine Abrieux, postdoctoral fellow, Joanna Chiu lab, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology
Title: "Understanding the Molecular Mechanisms underlying Photoperiodic Time Measurement in Drosophila melanogaster"
Host: Joanna Chiu, associate professor and vice chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology
Wednesday, Feb. 20:
Alexander Raikhel, distinguished professor, UC Riverside
Title: "The Role of Hormone Receptors and MicroRNAs in Mosquito Reproduction and Metabolism"
Host: Geoffrey Attardo, assistant professor, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematolgoy
Wednesday, Feb. 27:
Lauren Esposito, faculty member, San Francisco State University, and assistant curator and Schlinger Chair of Arachnology at the California Academy of Sciences
Title: "Evolution of New World Scorpions and Their Venom"
Host: Jason Bond, Evert and Marion Schlinger Endowed Chair in Insect Systematics, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology
Wednesday, March 6:
Monika Gulia-Nuss, assistant professor, biochemistry and molecular biology, University of Nevada, Reno
Topic: DNA Methylation in Ticks
Host: Geoffrey Attardo, assistant professor, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology
Wednesday, March 13:
Spring Break: March 20-27
For further information on the seminars, contact Geoffrey Attardo at email@example.com./span>