Jill Oberski, who studies with professor and ant specialist Phil Ward, submitted an infographic titled “Discovery and Diversity: The Importance of Systematic Entomology in Today's World in the Systems,” in the Evolution and Biodiversity (SysEB) Section and won a second-place award.
Oberski also won a second-place award for her dissertation research “Unraveling the Phylogeny and Biogeography of Dorymyrmex, a New World Amphitropical Disjunct” in the category SysEB: Phylogenetics 2.
The research presentations are highly competitive. "Entomology 2019 was an exciting four days filled with 236 scientific sessions featuring 2,205 oral and 680 poster presentations with 3,653 attendees from 61 different countries," an ESA spokesman said. "This year was a record setting event with 1,150 students attending!"
Those in the (SysEB) Section study insect anatomy, classification, and history. The section focuses on systematics, evolution, and biodiversity, but it also includes morphology, ecology, population dynamics, genetics, phylogeny, nomenclature, biogeography, zoology, and other specialties.
Those in the PI-E section deal with insect interactions with plants. Topics include behavioral, ecological, and evolutionary relationships in natural landscapes, as well as integrated pest management (IPM) in agriculture, horticulture, forests, and lawn and garden. This includes such aspects as crop protection, host-plant response, plant pathology/vectors, pollination, biological control and microbial control.
Both Oberski and Kahl also served as members of the UC Linnaean Games Team, comprised of UC Davis and UC Berkeley graduate students, that competed with other university teams throughout the nation. The Linnaean Games, launched in 1983, are lively question-and-answer, college bowl-style competitions on entomological facts. The teams score points by correctly answering random questions.
The team was eliminated in the first round. Some logistics issues--microphone mishaps and difficulty hearing the questions (issues later resolved)--complicated the session.
Previously the UC team won three national championships. This year the University of Florida team triumphed.
The Linnaean Games, launched in 1983, are lively question-and-answer, college bowl-style competitions on entomological facts and played by winners of the ESA branch competitions. The teams score points by correctly answering random questions.
The 2019 UC team, captained by Ralph Washington Jr., a UC Berkeley public policy graduate student who received his bachelor's degree in entomology at UC Davis, included five UC Davis doctoral students in entomology: Brendon Boudinot, Zachary Griebenow and Jill Oberski, all of the Phil Ward lab, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology; and alternates Miles Dakin of the Christian Nansen lab and Hanna Kahl of the Jay Rosenheim lab.
Washington captained all four recent teams, and Boudinot helped anchor all of them.
- 2018: UC won the national championship (link to news story) in Vancouver, B.C., defeating Texas A&M Graduates, with Washington captaining the team and joined by Boudinot, Oberski and Griebenow, and Emily Bick (who received her doctorate this year) of the Christian Nansen lab. (No video of the championship round)
- 2017: The UC team did not compete. (Texas A&M won the national championship; see championship round on YouTube)
- 2016: UC won the national and international championships at the University of Florida, at the joint and international meeting of ESA and the International Congress of Entomology (ICE), defeating the University of Georgia. (See championship round on YouTube)
- 2015: UC won the national championship at the games held in Minneapolis, Minn., defeating the University of Florida. (See championship round on YouTube)
Some of the previous questions asked of the UC team during the championship rounds:
Question: What is the smallest insect that is not a parasite or parasitoid?
Answer: Beetles in the family Ptiliidae.
Question:Some species of mosquitoes lay eggs that can undergo diapause or aestivation. Give at least three cues that trigger the aquatic eggs to hatch.
Answer: Temperature, immersion in water, concentration of ions or dissolved solutes.
Question: Chikungunya is an emerging vector-borne disease in the Americas. Chikungunya is derived from the African Language Makonde. What means Chikungunya in Makonde?
Answer: Bending up.
Question: A Gilson's gland can be found in what insect order?
Question: The first lepidopteran sex pheromone identified was bombykol. What was the first dipteran sex pheromone identified? Give the trade or chemical name.
Answer: Muscalure, Z-9-Tricosene. It is also one of the chemicals released by bees during the waggle dance.
Question: What famous recessive gene was the first sex-linked mutation demonstrated in Drosophila by T.H. Morgan?
Question: Cecidomyiidae are known as the gall flies. What is unique about the species Mayetiola destructor, and what is its common name?
Answer: Mayetiola destructor is the Hessian Fly, a tremendous pest of wheat. It does not form galls.
Question: Nicrophorus americanus is listed under what legislative act?
Answer: The Endangered Species Act
Question: In what insect order would you find hemelytra?
Answer: The order Hemiptera.
Question: A 2006 Science article by Glenner et al. on the origin of insects summarized evidence that Hexapods are nothing more than land-dwelling crustaceans, which is to say that the former group Crustacea is paraphyletic with respect to the Hexapoda. What hierarchical name has been used to refer to this clade?
Question: What are the three primary conditions that define eusociality?
Answer: Cooperative brood care, overlapping generations, and reproductive division of labor
Founded in 1889, ESA is the world's largest organization serving the professional and scientific needs of entomologists and individuals in related disciplines. It is comprised of more than 7000 members, who are affiliated with educational institutions, health agencies, private industry, and government. Members are researchers, teachers, extension service personnel, administrators, marketing representatives, research technicians, consultants, students, pest management professionals, and hobbyists.
Doctoral candidate and ant specialist Brendon Boudinot of the Phil Ward lab received the prestigious John Henry Comstock Award at the Entomological Society of America's recent annual meeting, held in St. Louis, Mo.
Each branch of ESA singles out one graduate student for the coveted award. The Pacific Branch of ESA (PBESA), earlier announced the award, its highest graduate student award. PBESA encompasses 11 Western states, U.S. territories, and parts of Canada and Mexico.
ESA president Robert Peterson, a professor at Montana State University, presented the award to Boudinot.
Boudinot excels in academics, leadership, public service activities, professional activities, and publications. “A highly respected scientist, teacher and leader with a keen intellect, unbridled enthusiasm, and an incredible penchant for public service, Brendon maintains a 4.00 grade point average; has published 12 outstanding publications on insect systematics (some are landmarks or ground-breaking publications); and engages in exceptional academic, student and professional activities,” wrote nominator Steve Nadler, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
Despite being at an early stage of his academic career, Boudinot has already published several landmark papers on insect systematics, wrote Phil Ward. "This includes a remarkable article, just published in Arthropod Structure & Development, in which Brendon presents a comprehensive theory of genital homologies across all Hexapoda (Boudinot 2018). Based on careful comparative morphological study and conducted within a phylogenetic framework, this paper is a major contribution to the field and is destined to become a “classic." This could have been a decade-long study by any investigator, and yet it is just one chapter of Brendon's thesis!"
Active in PBESA and ESA, Boudinot received multiple “President's Prize” awards for his research presentations at national ESA meetings. He organized the ESA symposium, “Evolutionary and Phylogenetic Morphology,” at the 2018 meeting in Vancouver, B.C. , and delivered a presentation on “Male Ants: Past, Present and Prospects” at the 2016 International Congress of Entomology meeting in Orlando, Fla.
Boudinot served on—and anchored—three of the UC Davis Linnaean Games teams that won national or international ESA championships. The Linnaean Games are a lively question-and-answer, college bowl-style competition on entomological facts played between university-sponsored student teams. He also participated on the UC Linnaean Games Team this year in St. Louis.
Boudinot has served as president of the UC Davis Entomology Graduate Student Association since 2006, and is active in the campuswide UC Davis Picnic Day; he has co-chaired the department's Picnic Day Committee since 2017.
Other UC Davis recipients of PBESA's John Henry Comstock Award:
- 2015: Mohammad-Amir Aghaee (major professor the late Larry Godfrey). He is now a research entomologist with Bayer Crop Science, Union City, Tenn.
- 2014: Kelly Hamby (major professor Frank Zalom). She is now on the faculty at the University of Maryland, College Park.
- 2013: Matan Shelomi (major professor Lynn Kimsey). He is now on the faculty of the National Taiwan University, Tapei.
- 2008: Christopher Barker (major professor William Reisen). He is now on the faculty of the Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology, UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine
- 1983: Elaine Backus (major professor the late Donald McLean). She is research entomologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service in Parlier
The award memorializes John Henry Comstock (1849-1931), an American entomologist, researcher and educator known for his studies of scale insects and butterflies and moths, which provided the basis for systematic classification. Comstock was a member of the faculty of Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., for most of his career, except for his service as a chief entomologist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (1879-81).
All proceeds benefit the Bohart Museum's educational and public service mission. The museum is located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane, UC Davis campus.
One of the popular items is a plush stuffed toy animal, the water bear or tardigrade. The stuffed animals come in three several sizes, from teddy-bear to keychain-size, said Bohart director Lynn Kimsey, UC Davis professor of entomology.
And in the near future, Kimsey hopes to install a water bear sculpture at the entrance to the museum. In fact, the Bohart Museum Society has set up a Go Fund Me account to help fund the project: see https://www.gofundme.com/f/waterbear-sculpture.
Why tardigrades? UC Davis boasts one of the world's largest tardigrade collections. "The water bear has to be one of the most peculiar and indestructible groups of animals known," Kimsey wrote in a recent newsletter. "The microscopic and nearly indestructible tardigrade can survive being heated to 304 degrees Fahrenheit or being chilled for days at -328 F. And, even if it's frozen for 30 years, it can still reproduce." (See video on EurekAlert.)
New items also include green metallic beetle earrings that UC Davis-trained entomologist Fran Keller, an associate professor at Folsom Lake College, brought back from the recent Entomological Society of America meeting in St. Louis, Mo. Handmade pens by entomologist Jeff Smith, curator of the Lepidoptera section, are another popular item.
The Bohart Museum, founded by noted entomologist Richard M. Bohart (1913-2007), houses a global collection of nearly eight million specimens. It is also the home of the seventh largest insect collection in North America, and the California Insect Survey, a storehouse of insect biodiversity. In addition to the gift shop, the Bohart maintains a live "petting zoo," featuring Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks or stick insects and tarantulas.
The insect museum is open to the public Mondays through Thursdays from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m., except on holidays. Visiting hours will end at 5 p.m., Dec. 16 and will resume at 9 a.m. on Jan. 6. The Bohart will be closed to the public from Dec. 17 to Jan. 5. More information on the Bohart Museum is available on the website at http://bohart.ucdavis.edu or by contacting (530) 752-0493 or firstname.lastname@example.org./span>
The four-year grant, "Ecobiology, Impact, and Management of Grapevine Red Blotch Virus and Its Vector(s) in California and Oregon Vineyards," from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA-NIFA), continues through August 2023.
“Red blotch is a huge new problem for the grape industry, and this is the first large government grant to study it,” said project director Anita Oberholster, Cooperative Extension specialist in the UC Davis Department of Viticulture and Enology. “We will be working in partnership to take the first steps to understand the disease and develop sustainable management practices to support the grape industry.”
Oberholster said the virus affects both white and red grape varieties and can have a "significant impact on wine quality." Integrated pest management specialist Frank Zalom, distinguished professor in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, and Rachael Goodhue, professor and chair, UC Davis Agricultural and Resource Economics, serve as co-directors.
In a greenhouse study in 2016, members of the Zalom lab and his USDA-ARS research collaborator Mysore ‘Suhdi' Sudarshana of the UC Davis Department of Plant Pathology found that the three-cornered alfalfa hopper, Spissistilus festinus, transmitted the virus. Prior to their discovery, the treehopper was considered only an occasional pest due to its feeding and egg laying that girdled stems, causing the portion of the plant above the girdle to turn red on red grape varieties.
In their successful grant application, the scientists wrote that grapevine red blotch virus (GRBV) is a prominent disease found in the majority of grape growing regions in California and Oregon. "The grape industry currently lacks best practices for detecting and preventing spread of GRBV within and among vineyards. The discovery of S. festinus as a vector of GRBV significantly increased the possibility of better understanding the epidemiology of GRBD and ultimately its management. However, GRBD spread also occurs in vineyards where S. festinus has not been found. Therefore, information on potential additional vector species in these regions is paramount."
"Replanted vineyards in California and Oregon have experienced reinfections and a better understanding on the prevalence of GRBV and assessment of risk factors are needed," they wrote. "Proposed research will address knowledge gaps involving the epidemiology of the virus as driven by studies on its vectors and determining how the disease affects grapevine performance and grape quality. The economic impact of GRBV infection on producers and nurseries will also be determined. Sustainable GRBV management strategies developed from the project will be implemented to enhance economic and social impacts and to reduce the impact on environment. This project brings together researchers, extension specialists and stakeholders from CA and OR to help solve a significant new problem facing this valuable specialty crops industry. Outreach activities will be extended to the other states and can thus impact the grape industry in the country."
(Editor's Note: UC Davis News Service contributed to this story and the leaf photo)