Molecular nematologist Peter DiGennaro of the University of Florida's Department of Entomology and Nematology will present his seminar on "Gaps in Molecular Plant Nematology" from 4:10 to 5 p.m. (Link to the form to join the Zoom meeting.)
"What has molecular plant nematology done for me?" asks DiGennaro, who will present a collection of short stories describing the need for, and benefits of, a symbiosis-centered approach in understanding plant-nematode interactions at the molecular level.
"Dr. DiGennaro does great work on plant-nematode interactions," said seminar host Shahid Siddique, assistant professor, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
DiGennaro, interested in the molecular basis of nematode parasitism in plants, primarily researches the root-knot nematode (Meloidogyne spp.); specifically, he is concerned with nematode-derived signaling molecules and subsequent host responses. His lab utilizes an array of genomic, genetic and biochemical tools to understand the fundamental mechanisms behind nematode host range, parasitism, and plant responses.
"The goal of our research is to develop novel avenues for safe and sustainable nematode control strategies," he says.
DiGennaro received his bachelor of science degree in biochemstry in 2007 from the State University of New York at Geneseo, and his doctorate in functional genomics, with a minor in plant pathology, from North Carolina State University (NCSU) in 2013. At NCSU, he studied the molecular basis for nematode parasitism in plants. He served as a postdoctoral researcher with the Plant Nematode Genomics Group at both NCSU and at UC Berkeley before joining the University of Florida, Gainsville, in July 2016.
Coordinating the seminars is Cooperative Extension specialist Ian Grettenberger, assistant professor, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. For any technical issues, he can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The blood-sucking insect, which transmits the parasite that causes human and animal trypanosomiasis, has wreaked havoc in African countries.
It's distinguished from other Diptera by unique adaptations, "including lactation and the birthing of live young," says medical entomologist-geneticist Geoffrey Attardo, assistant professor, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
Mark your calendar.
The UC Davis Department of Animal Science is hosting his seminar, “Tsetse Fly Reproduction: Exploration of the Unique Reproductive Adaptations of a Neglected Disease Vector” at 12:10 p.m., Monday, Oct. 7 in the Weir Room, 2154 Meyer Hall.
"Tsetse flies function as the sole vectors of human and animal Trypanosomiasis in sub-Saharan Africa," Attardo says in his abstract. "In addition to their role as disease vectors, tsetse flies distinguish themselves from other flies in terms of their amazing physiological adaptations. Of these adaptations, the reproductive biology/physiology of these flies stands out as one of the most dramatic."
"Female tsetse flies carry their young in an adapted uterus for the entirety of their immature development and provide their complete nutritional requirements via the synthesis and secretion of a milk like substance. Tsetse milk is derived of roughly 50 percent lipids and 50 percent proteins. Tsetse milk proteins are coded for by repurposed genes and by genes specific to tsetse flies. These genes are regulated in tight correlation with the female's pregnancy cycle. In addition, tsetse flies have established an obligate relationship with the bacterial symbiont Wigglesworthia glossinidius. This symbiont is required for lactation and larval development. Metabolic analysis of tsetse flies lacking this symbiont reveals a tightly integrated relationship between these organisms. This relationship is required for the metabolism of blood, production of essential micronutrients and synthesis/secretion of lipids essential for milk production.”
Attardo led landmark research published Sept. 2 in the journal Genome Biology that provides new insight into the genomics of the tsetse fly. The researchers compared and analyzed the genomes of six species of tsetse flies. Their research could lead to better insights into disease prevention and control.
“It was a behemoth project, spanning six to seven years,” said Attardo. “This project represents the combined efforts of a consortium of 56 researchers throughout the United States, Europe, Africa and China.” (See news story.)
In 1995, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that 60 million people were at risk of sleeping sickness, with an estimated 300,000 new cases per year in Africa, and fewer than 30,000 cases diagnosed and treated. Due to increased control, only 3796 cases were reported in 2014, with less than 15,000 estimated cases, according to WHO statistics.
WHO says that the parasitic disease “mostly affects poor populations living in remote rural areas of Africa. Untreated, it is usually fatal. Travelers also risk becoming infected if they venture through regions where the insect is common. Generally, the disease is not found in urban areas, although cases have been reported in suburban areas of big cities in some disease endemic countries.”
Those are some of the questions that Wolf asks. "We aim to find some of the molecular and neural circuit mechanisms that govern adult behavior in the fruit fly Drosophila."
Wolf, who holds a doctorate in molecular and cell biology from UC Berkeley, will speak on "Drinking Drosophila and Drunk Drosophila: Genes and Circuits for Simple Behaviors" at the next UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology seminar, set for 4:10 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 31 in 122 Briggs Hall.
"How is motivation coded in a small brain?" Wolf asks. "How does a natural motivation like a thirst differ from drug-seeking in addiction? We use circuit mapping, genetics and behavior in Drosophila melanogaster to find out internal states combine with environmental information to select behavioral programs and suppress others."
Molecular geneticist Joanna Chiu, associate professor and vice chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, will introduce the speaker and serve as the host. Medical entomologist Geoffrey Attardo coordinates the fall seminars.
The Drosophila fly nervous system is remarkable. Wolf says it's "a million-fold simpler than ours, yet flies are capable of carrying out remarkably sophisticated tasks that are modified by past experience and internal states. However, the biological bases for even simple behavioral actions that serve as models for more complex tasks remain mysterious. Understanding how circuits function in a model organism where rapid progress can be made with highly sophisticated tools is likely to provide insight into how more complicated brains work."
No wonder that Drosophila melanogaster, is a favorite model organism among biomedical researchers.
"There are many technical advantages of using Drosophila over vertebrate models; they are easy and inexpensive to culture in laboratory conditions, have a much shorter life cycle, they produce large numbers of externally laid embryos and they can be genetically modified in numerous ways," according to Barbara Jennings in ScienceDirect.com. "Research using Drosophila has made key advances in our understanding of regenerative biology and will no doubt contribute to the future of regenerative medicine in many different ways."
"Over the past four decades," Jennings points out, "Drosophila has become a predominant model used to understand how genes direct the development of an embryo from a single cell to a mature multicellular organism." Indeed, numerous scientists have won Nobel Prizes for their research on the fruit fly.
What does the scientific name, Drosophila melanogaster, mean? Drosophila means "dew lover" and melanogaster means "dark gut."
Do you know where your nematodes are? If you're a grower, you should.
"To make informed management decisions and ensure that environmentally damaging soil fumigants are applied only when and where needed, growers need to know precisely the density and distribution of pest nematodes," says nematologist Amanda Hodson, a professional researcher in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology who will present a departmental seminar at 4:10 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 31 in 122 Briggs Hall.
Hodson, who will deliver the hourlong seminar on "Molecular Detection and Integrated Management of Plant Parasitic Nematodes," studies the interrelationships between nematode pests, ecosystem functioning and management decisions.
"Molecular methods overcome some of the drawbacks of the labor and time intensive process of nematode detection," she says. "Our analysis has established the accuracy of real time PCR (qPCR) primers which accurately differentiate and quantify several pest nematodes from other nematodes in the soil including lesion nematode (Pratylenchus vulnus), ring nematode (Mesocriconema xenoplax) and two separate groups of root knot nematodes (Meloidogyne spp.). Integrated management of these soil pests requires better understanding of the interactions between nematode pest suppression, soil food webs, management tactics, crop productivity, and soil health. Our experiments link managing for nematode pest suppression with other desired ecological outcomes such as increased soil organic matter and nutrient cycling in cropping systems such as almonds, tomatoes and carrots."
Hodson's research integrates plant and root biology with the fields of entomology, nematology, acarology and biogeochemistry. She completed her doctorate in entomology at UC Davis in 2010 on the ecological effects of a biological control agent in pistachio orchards, finding that the entomopathogenic nematode, Steinernema carpocapsae, caused temporary changes in native soil food webs. Following up on these results in the laboratory, she found that the European earwig (Forficula auricularia) could serve as a novel host for the nematode. This susceptibility depended on host body size with significantly higher mortality rates seen in larger earwigs.
The departmental seminars (see schedule) are open to all interested persons. Seminar coordinators are assistant professor Rachel Vannette, Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño and doctoral student Brendon Boudinot of the Phil Ward lab.
Borowiec, who received his doctorate in entomology in June from the University of California, Davis, studying with major professor Phil Ward, will speak on "Genomic Data and the Tree of Life: Known Knowns, Known Unknowns, and Unknown Unknowns of Army Ant Evolution" at his exit seminar.
Set from 4:10 to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 26 in 122 Briggs Hall, Kleiber Hall Drive, the seminar will be hosted by the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. Plans call for video-recording the seminar for later posting on UCTV.
"I got interested in ants after reading E. O. Wilson's autobiography 'Naturalist' as a freshman in college," Borowiec related. "I'm fascinated by the diversity of form and function in ants, that is, by the various ways they make a living and the incredible variation of their morphologies."
Harvard University professor Wilson, one of the world's most distinguished scientists, is two-time recipient of the Pulitzer Prize. (See his Ted talks.)
"Ants are the world's most successful eusocial organisms," said Borowiec, whose research interests include phylogeny, taxonomy, biogeography, and natural history of ants. "Long history, high species diversity, and extreme variety of life histories make them an excellent group in which many evolutionary questions can be addressed."
"My dissertation research at UC Davis focused on building a taxonomic and phylogenetic framework for the research on army ant evolution," said Borowiec, who received his master's degree in 2009 from the Department of Biodiversity and Evolutionary Taxonomy, University of Wroclaw, Poland. "Although army ants include very charismatic species, they belong to a larger group, the subfamily Dorylinae. In addition to the army ants, dorylines comprise many cryptic ants whose biology and even taxonomy have been neglected. Partly as a result of this, even phylogenetic relationships of the army ants are not well-understood. The first step to advancing evolutionary research in the group was thus to examine the morphological diversity within this lineage. This resulted in a generic revision of the subfamily, published open-access in ZooKeys. Expertise gained during this work allowed me to design robust taxon sampling for a phylogeny of the dorylines based on next-generation sequencing data (ultraconserved elements or UCEs), currently in preparation."
Borowiec is now a postdoc in the lab of evolutionary biologist Christian Rabeling of Rochester, N.Y. who works on ants. In January the lab will be moving to Tempe, Ariz.
Myrmecologist Marek Borowiec would certainly agree with E.O. Wilson's noted quotes about ants:
- "Ants have the most complicated social organization on earth next to humans."
- "Ants are the dominant insects of the world, and they've had a great impact on habitats almost all over the land surface of the world for more than 50 million years."
- "When you have seen one ant, one bird, one tree, you have not seen them all."