Vannette, who researches pollinator microbiomes, titled her innovative project “Characterizing the Structure and Function of Pollinator Microbiomes." She investigates the communities of bacteria and fungi in flowers and pollinators, including bees and hummingbirds. “Our work to date suggests that microbes in flowers are common and influence pollinator behavior,” she says.
The Hellman funding will allow her to link microbial communities in flowers with their influence on pollinators by examining microbial modification of nectar and pollen chemistry, and examine how microbial effects vary among plant and pollinator species, and with environmental variation.
We remember the groundbreaking research published by Vannette and her colleagues last year in the New Phytologist journal. Their paper, titled “Nectar-inhabiting Microorganisms Influence Nectar Volatile Composition and Attractiveness to a Generalist Pollinator,” showed that nectar-living microbes release scents or volatile compounds that can influence a pollinator's foraging preference.
Nectar-inhabiting species of bacteria and fungi “can influence pollinator preference through differential volatile production,' Vannette related last September. “This extends our understanding of how microbial species can differentially influence plant phenotype and species interactions through a previously overlooked mechanism. It's a novel mechanism by which the presence and species composition of the microbiome can influence pollination. Broadly, our results imply that the microbiome can contribute to plant volatile phenotype. This has implications for many plant-insect interactions.”
The 11 Hellman Fellows will receive a total of $244,000 in grants for research in a wide range of disciplines. Since 2008, UC Davis has received nearly $3 million in Hellman grants, awarded to 136 early-career faculty members. The Hellman Fund provides grant monies to early career faculty on all 10 UC campuses, as well as to four private institutions.
Vannette joined the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology in 2015 after serving as a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University's biology department, where she was a Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow from 2011 to 2015 and examined the role of nectar chemistry in community assembly of yeasts and plant-pollinator interactions.
She received her bachelor of science degree, summa cum laude, in 2006 from Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Mich., and her doctorate from the University of Michigan's Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Ann Arbor, in 2011. Her thesis: “Whose Phenotype Is It Anyway? The Complex Role of Species Interactions and Resource Availability in Determining the Expression of Plant Defense Phenotype and Community Consequences.”
We look forward to hearing more about this exciting research!
Insects are in. They're not only everywhere in nature (well, almost everywhere!), they've climbed, crawled, jumped, buzzed, fluttered, flew or otherwise positioned themselves on fashions, including the UC Davis Entomology Graduate Student Association (EGSA) t-shirts.
The EGSA, comprised of UC Davis graduate students who study insect systems, is an organization that "works to connect students from across disciplines, inform students of and provide opportunities for academic success, and to serve as a bridge between the students and administration," according to EGSA president Brendon Boudinot, an ant specialist/doctoral student in the Phil Ward lab.
As a year-around fundraising project, they sell t-shirts, which can be viewed and ordered online at https://mkt.com/UCDavisEntGrad/. Jill Oberski, a graduate student in the Phil Ward lab, serves as the t-shirt sales coordinator. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Oberski designed an award-winning onesie, “My Sister Loves Me." It's an adult ant, “loosely based on Ochetellus, a mostly-Australian genus.”
Boudinot's award-winning design is REPRESANT, with illustrations by colleague Eli Sarnat, an alumnus of the Ward lab.
One of the favorite bee t-shirts depicts a honey bee emerging from its iconic hexagonal cells. It's the 2014 winner by then doctoral student Danny Klittich, now a California central coast agronomist.
Another "fave" bee shirt--this one showing a bee barbecuing--is by doctoral student and nematologist Corwin Parker, who studies with Steve Nadler, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. It was one of the 2018 winners. (See the three winners on this site.)
EGSA is heading for the Entomological Society of America annual meeting in November. In addition to their participation, the graduate students will be selling shirts at the meeting, appropriately themed "Sharing Insects Globally." It's set for Nov. 11-14 in Vancouver, B.C. The EGSA also sells its t-shirts at other events, including at Briggs Hall during the annual UC Davis Picnic Day.
Insects rock. But some climb, crawl, jump, flutter, buzz, fly or otherwise position themselves on EGSA t-shirts.
When you head over to a nursery, and see bees and butterflies and other pollinators foraging on the plants, that's a good sign.
Buy the plants.
Promise: The pollinators will come.
Many gardeners and would-be gardeners are looking forward to the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden Plant Sale--the "first entirely open-to-the-public plant sale of the fall season." It's set from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 13 in the Arboretum Teaching Nursery on Garrod Drive, near the School of Veterinary Medicine.
Members of the Friends of the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden and the Davis Botanical Society receive 10 percent off their purchases. You can join online, at the door, or call ahead, officials say. New members receive a $10-off coupon as a thank you for joining.
That's a good incentive.
What plants are they offering? Download the inventory.
Meanwhile, summer has ended, fall crept in on Sept. 23, and winter is fast approaching--Dec. 21.
We caught a little sliver left of mellow mornings last weekend in the Kate Frey Pollinator Garden at Sonoma Cornerstone. An anise swallowtail, Papilio zelicaon, fluttered in, touched down to sip some nectar, and soared off. What a sight to see!
Buy a plant (help the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden), and promise, the pollinators that will surely come are free!
What's life like on the farm?
If you're looking for something to do on Saturday, Aug. 4, the Pleasants Valley Agriculture Association (PVAA) of Vacaville is hosting its first-ever Open Farm Day 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The event, free admission and open to the public, is an opportunity for small farm owners of Solano County in Vacaville to showcase what they do. Visitors also will be able to shop for local produce and other goods, including everything from summer fruit and dried lavender to wine, olive oil and honey.
PVAA is a newly formed collective of farmers, agriculture and ancillary business owners located in the rural areas of Vacaville. All have a collective interest in agriculture tourism, preserving agriculture land, and cross-promoting with local businesses in Solano County.
Four farms will be open: Joyful Ranch, Soul Food Farm, Morningsun Herb Farm, and Be Love Farm.
“Open Farm Day is a great time to meet local farmers and experience life on the farm,” said Alexis Koefoed, owner of Soul Food Farm.The Joyful Ranch, a 19th century farm, is the original Pleasants family farm. Two tours, offered by Pleasants family descendent Ethel Hoskins, are scheduled: one at 10 and one at 11. Hoskins' grandfather, William Pleasants' book, Twice Across the Plains – 1849, 1856, will be available for purchase, with a portion of the proceeds going toward the Joyful Ranch non-profit organization.
Other PVAA farms that will be at the Joyful Ranch location on Saturday include
- La Borgata Winery, offering wine tastings and a plein air (outdoor) painting demonstration
- Girl on the Hill, offering lavender products for sale, as well as a free talk about lavender distillation
- Sola Bees, hosting honey tastings and a free talk about honey.
Live music and a picnic area will await visitors at Soul Food Farm. The owner, Alexis Koefoed will be offering free, 30-minute talks on chicken care. Karen Ford of Clay's Bees will discuss the benefits of local honey. Lockewood Acres also be on site. Dried lavender, olive oil, honey and produce will be available to purchase.
Morningsun Herb Farm, which celebrated its 20th anniversary in May, is a mid- sized plant nursery with a diverse selection of plants, herbs and garden gifts. Will Brazelton from Brazelton Ranch (another PVAA farm), will discuss peach tree care. Visitors also will be able to get their photos taken with the Morningsun Herb Farm donkeys from 1 to 3 p.m.
Be Love Farm is the only Open Farm Day farm not located on Pleasants Valley Road; the small, family-owned and operated farm focusing on regenerative farming techniques, is on Bucktown Lane. They will be offering “Regenerative Farm Tours” at 10 a.m. noon, 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Be Love Farm just opened its farm store in early July. Visitors can shop for organic fruit and veggies, wine, olive oil, sunflower sprouts, and more.
A spectacular pollinator garden that's a "must-see" is Kate Frey's pollinator garden at Sonoma Cornerstone.
Kate Frey, a world-class pollinator garden designer, pollinator advocate and author who addressed the UC Davis Bee Symposium in March on "Designing Bee Friendly Gardens," has created a masterpiece. And yes, the pollinator garden is open to the public--no admission fee.
We visited the garden last Saturday and saw a pipevine swallowtail nectaring on Nepeta tuberosa, yellow-faced bumble bees sipping nectar from Stachys bullata, hummingbirds scoring nectar from salvia, and honey bees foraging on everything from Scabiosa "Fama Blue" to a native milkweed, Asclepias speciosa.
This is a happy place.
As she told the crowd at the Bee Symposium, hosted by the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center and the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology: Whether you plant them, nurture them, or walk through them, bee gardens make us happy.
Frey's sign at the Sonoma pollinator garden explains that "All the plants offer food resources of pollen and nectar for pollinators such as native bees, honey bees, hummingbirds and beneficial insects. Pollen is a protein, mineral and fat source and is primarily a larval food for bees, while nectar is composed of various sugars and is the main food for pollinators and the adult life stage of many beneficial insects. Pollinators need a continuous food source for many months of the year. This garden contains a range of plants that will bloom in succession from early spring to late fall."
Frey's sign also noted that "Pollinators all have preferred plants they feed from, and flowers cater to specific pollinators. Some flower shapes are designed to exclude unwanted pollinators. The long, constricted floral tubes of honeysuckles or many salvia exhibit their focus on hummingbirds as primary pollinators. Other flowers nectar, like coffee berry is easily accessible to all pollinators. This garden contains a wide range of plants to appear to a variety of pollinators. Over 80 percent of flowering plants require insect or animal pollination. What insects or birds do you see visiting each flower type?"
Well, let's see: bees, butterflies, and birds...Apis mellifera, Battus philenor, Bombus vosnesenskii, Papilio rutulus, Calypte anna...
"The same plants that support pollinators," Frey indicated on the sign, "also make us happy."
They do! Happiness is a pollinator garden...