Professor Gary Felton, head of the Department of Entomology, Pennsylvania State University, will speak on "Herbivore-Associated Microbes Mediate the Intersection of Herbivore and Plant Immunity" at the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology's seminar at 4:10 p.m., Wednesday, May 9 in 122 Briggs Hall. This is a Storer Endowment-sponsored seminar.
Felton, who received his doctorate in entomology at UC Davis in 1988, writes in his abstract: "The lateral transfer of microbial genes from bacteria, baculoviruses, polydnaviruses and fungi has shaped the genomes of herbivores such as Lepidoptera. Such transfer has enabled herbivore speciation and the successful colonization of host plants among other impacts on fitness. In present time, herbivore-associated microbes play an exceedingly important role in mediating phenotypic variation in herbivores. Using the example of one highly polyphagous herbivore, the tomato fruitworm (Helicoverpa zea) we will show how herbivore associate microbes strongly impact the phenotype of the herbivore and its impact on induced defenses in the host plant."
"Herbivore cues found in their saliva are recognized by plants to turn on anti-herbivore defenses," Felton says. "Microbes associated with these herbivores including bacteria, fungi, baculoviruses, and polydnaviruses impact the composition of these salivary cues and ultimately mediate the ability of the host plant to mount their anti-herbivore defenses."
Overall, he says of his research on his website: "My research program uses molecular, proteomic and physiological approaches to investigate insect-plant interactions. My main interests are investigating the counter measures herbivores use in overcoming host plant defenses. Particular interest is on the role of herbivore salivary signals in suppressing the induced defenses of host plants. The role of saliva of blood feeding arthropods in suppressing the defenses of their vertebrate hosts has been comparatively well studied; however, very little is known about how the saliva of herbivores may interfere with plant defensive responses. Our projects focus primarily on the saliva of caterpillars. Recent findings indicate that saliva is enriched with an array of molecules that function in defense against microbial infection, digestion of plant tissues, and in suppressing induced defenses of plants. We employ a variety of surgical and genetic approaches (e.g., RNA interference) to examine function(s) of saliva."
Felton, who has served as professor and head of the Penn State Department of Entomology since 2000, received his bachelor of science degree from UC Irvine in 1975, followed by his master's degree from the University of Kentucky, Lexington, in 1983. He then enrolled in the UC Davis entomology graduate school program, studying with Sean Duffey.
After receiving his doctorate from UC Davis in 1988, he did postdoctoral work at UC Davis from 1988 to 2000, and then joined the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, as an assistant professor in 2000. He was promoted to associate professor in 1994, and to professor in 1998. He left the University of Arkansas in 2000 to accept the professor and department chair position at Penn State.
Want to know more about the tomato fruitworm, also called the cotton bollworm and corn earworm? See the UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management website. "Management of tomato fruitworm requires careful monitoring for eggs and small larvae."
The seminars are coordinated by assistant professor Rachel Vannette; doctoral candidate Brendon Boudinot of the Phil Ward lab, and Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño.
There will be plenty of people to bug.
Some 3200 entomologists or persons interested in insects are registered to attend.
Our own Frank Zalom, distinguished professor of entomology in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, serves as president of the 7000-member organization, founded in 1889. He's the second UC Davis entomologist to hold the office. The first was Donald McLean (1928-2014), emeritus professor and former chair of the department.
Zalom, an integrated pest management specialist, has selected his theme as "Grand Challenges Beyond Our Horizon," a perfect theme for a meeting in the Great Northwest.
Richard Levine, communications program manager for ESA, says that more than 90 symposia are planned and will cover such topics as bed bugs, honey bees, monarch butterflies, ticks, native pollinators, pesticide regulations, biological control, integrated pest management, genetically-modified crops, invasive species, forestry, entomophagy, organic farming, insect-vectored diseases, and more. In addition, there will be 1,750 papers and posters, Levine reports.
- Beyond Pesticides: The Conundrum of Bed Bugs
- Insects as Sustainable and Innovative Sources of Food and Feed Production
- Recovering Monarch Butterfly Populations in North America: A Looming Challenge for Science, the Public, Industry, and Legislators
- Classical Biological Control of the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, Halyomorpha halys (Stål)
- Nutrition and the Health and Behavior of Wild and Managed Bees
- Contributions of Mosquito Research to Science & Society
- Entomological Comics and Their Importance in Education and Culture
- RNAi: Emerging Technology to Overcome Grand Challenges in Entomology
- IPM: An International Organic Farming Strategy on Invasive Insect Species
- New Frontiers in Honey Bee Health Economics: Incorporating Entomological Research and Knowledge into Economic Assessments
UC Davis will have quite a presence at the meeting. Among the scientists to be honored at the ESA meeting are three from UC Davis: Professor Diane Ullman and doctorate recipients Kelly Hamby (2014) and James F. Campbell (1999)
Kelly Hamby, recipient of the John Henry Comstock Graduate Student Award from the Pacific Branch of ESA, will be honored, along with the other Comstock award winners from the other branches. (See more information)
Research entomologist James F. Campbell, who earned his doctoral in entomology from UC Davis in 1999, will receive a special recognition award. The award, sponsored by Syngenta Crop Protection, recognizes entomologists who are making significant contributions to agriculture. Campbell is a research entomologist with the Center for Grain and Animal Health Research Service of the USDA's Agricultural Research Service, Manhattan, Kansas. (See more information)
Three professors who received their doctorates in entomology in the 1980s from UC Davis are among this year's 10 elected Fellows.
- Nilsa A. Bosque-Pérez, professor, Department of Plant, Soil and Entomological Sciences at the University of Idaho. She received two degrees from UC Davis: her master's degree in 1981 and Ph.D. in 1985.
- Gary Felton, professor and head of the Department of Entomology at Penn State University. He received his doctorate from UC Davis in 1988. In 2010, he delivered the Thomas and Nina Leigh Distinguished Alumni Lecture at UC Davis
- Murray B. Isman, professor of entomology and toxicology at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver. He received his doctorate from UC Davis in 1981. In 2012, he delivered the Thomas and Nina Leigh Distinguished Alumni Lecture at UC Davis
Many faculty and students will present talks or displays at the event.
Each participant will receive a copy of the 2014 ESA calendar, which features the work of insect photographers throughout the world.
A red flameskimmer dragonfly (Libellula saturata), taken by yours truly, is among the images. I bugged the bug. "Lib" perched on a bamboo stake near our fish pond and was not at all skittish when I walked up and asked "Okay if I bug you for a photo? After you polish off that sweat bee?"
In bug language, Lib said "Go ahead. Just get my best side, please."
So I did. Lib's best side. And then I wrote the requisite caption about this amazing dragonfly.
"The flameskimmer dragonfly (Libellula saturata) is native to western North America. It feeds on bees, flies, moths and other soft-bodied insects, catching them in flight and returning to a perch to eat. The males, about two to three inches long, are larger than the females. The males are firecracker red or dark orange, while the females are a medium to a darker brown. Adult dragonflies hang out at ponds, streams, ditches and at other water habitats. Females lay their eggs in warm ponds or small streams. The nymphs ambush their prey, feeding on insect larvae, including mosquitoes and aquatic flies. The nymphs also eat small fish, tadpoles and each other."
It happened 14 years ago tomorrow. Chemical ecologist Sean Duffey (right), then professor and vice chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology--and known for taking teaching, research, public service and administrative duties to exciting new levels--died May 21, 1997 of lung cancer. He was 53.
He left a legacy treasured by the faculty, students and staff, not to mention his family, friends and colleagues. Every day many pass by the “Au Revoir Sean Duffey” wall memorial on the third floor of Briggs Hall. The work of Davis sculptor Donna Billick (a self-described "20th century cave artist") and Davis calligraphy artist Marilyn Judson, it contains recollections of his life. It includes images of everything from the insects he studied, to the hat he wore, to a soccer ball he kicked.
And every May, the faithful place flowers there in his memory.
Felton will deliver the Thomas and Nina Leigh Distinguished Alumni Seminar on “Dialogues at the Plant-Herbivore Interface” at 6 p.m. in Ballroom B of the new UC Davis Conference Center, located across from the Mondavi Center.
The lecture is open to the public and will be preceded by a reception at 5 p.m. A buffet dinner for invited guests will follow Felton’s talk.
Felton, professor and head of the Penn State Department of Entomology since 2000, received his doctorate in entomology from UC Davis in 1988. He did postdoctoral work at UC Davis from 1988 to 2000, and then joined the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, advancing to professor in 1998.
About his talk, Felton says: “Our understanding of induced resistance against herbivores has grown immeasurably during the last several decades. Based upon the emerging literature, I argue that induced resistance represents a continuum of phenotypes that is determined by the plant’s ability to integrate multiple suites of signals of plant and herbivore origin.”
“Herbivore-derived cues may be perceived by plants to elicit defensive responses, but herbivores may also partially evade plant defenses through a variety of secreted effectors. A more comprehensive model describing induced resistance is needed that illustrates the range of signals arising from early detection through herbivore feeding, and finally, through subsequent plant generations.”
Leigh joined the UC Davis Department of Entomology in 1958, retiring in 1991 as an emeritus professor. However, like many entomologists, he continued to remain active in his research and collaboration until his death on Oct. 26, 1993.
Thomas Leigh, Sean Duffey and Gary Felton…three familiar faces in the world of entomology and all dedicated to learning, teaching and giving back. As poet laureate Maya Angelou so eloquently wrote: ”When you learn, teach. When you get, give.”
They’ve done just that.