It's in the current edition of The American Entomologist.
The UC Davis team, captained by Mohammad-Amir Aghaee of the Larry Godfrey lab, included members Danny Klittich of the Michael Parrella lab; Jenny Carlson, Anthony Cornel lab; Margaret "Rei" Scampavia, Neal Williams/Edwin Lewis lab; and Ralph Washington Jr., Steve Nadler lab.
The UC Davis debate team was assigned the “con” side of the topic, “Neonicotinoids Are Causing the Death of Bees Essential for Pollinating our Food Crops. The Use of Neonicotinoids Should End.” Auburn (Ala.) University drew the “pro” side. UC Davis defeated Auburn University and then went on win the overall student debate championship in the six-team, three-topic competition.
The neonicotinoid debate drew widespread attention. Below are the summaries distributed here in open access, Creative Commons:
Neonicotinoids are causing the death of bees essential for pollinating our food crops. The use of neonicotinoids should end.
Washington State University
Honey bees, bumble bees, and solitary bees are among the important biotic couriers transporting pollen from the male anther to the female stigma of flowers, playing a fundamental role in the fertilization and fruiting of angiosperms. The mutualism between bee pollinators and flowering plants is essential to approximately 35% of global agriculture (Velthuis and van Doorn 2006, Klein et al. 2007) and critical to many aspects of native ecosystems worldwide. However, this critical link is threatened by the decline of bee populations. The source of bee decline is multi-faceted; suspected causes of colony collapse disorder (CCD) in honey bees include, but are not limited to, biotic factors such as parasitic mites, pathogens, and resource availability/diversity, as well as abiotic factors including climatic change, land-use change, pollution, and pesticides (Decourtye et al. 2010, Neumann and Carreck 2010, Kluser et al. 2011, Girolami et al. 2012). The decline of native North American pollinators has the potential to disrupt the integrity of ecosystems and agricultural prosperity (Cane and Tepedino 2001). Native bee decline could be due to a number of reasons: the establishment of monocultures and disturbance of their native habitat; disruption in the pattern of bloom; the replacement of native flora with crop plants; or widespread insecticide use (Cane and Tepedino 2001). Among the classes of insecticides registered today, neonicotinoids are one of the most used insecticides worldwide, and are at the forefront of the investigation to determine the contributing factors to CCD (Girolami et al. 2012).
Neonicotinoid insecticides are effective against a broad range of chewing and sucking insect pest species (Zhou et al. 2013) and are registered for use in a wide variety of crops, including cereals, corn, cotton, oilseed rape, sunflowers, and sugar beets. This insecticide can be applied as a highly effective systemic seed coating, in the form of foliar sprays, or incorporated as a soil drench (Elbert et al. 2008, Yang et al. 2008, Blacquiére et al. 2012). All neonicotinoids are agonists of the insect nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) (Matsuda et al. 2001, Elbert et al. 2008), causing excitation of the nervous system, paralysis, and eventually death of exposed, susceptible insects. While neonicotinoids are generally considered selective for insects and safe against mammals and birds, beneficial arthropods are still susceptible. Beneficial insects can come in contact with neonicotinoids if they feed on contaminated plant tissues or excretions, or are consequently exposed to the insecticide by ingesting contaminated prey (Prabhaker et al. 2011). When applied according to label instructions, neonicotinoids are not likely to come into direct contact with blooms, reducing contact with pollinators. However, neonicotinoids are highly potent and effective systemically; this class is highly soluble in water and can be moved by the plant translaminarly (Girolami et al. 2009).
Because of the value of pollination services provided by bees, and the widespread use of neonicotinoids, it is critical that the role of these pesticides in pollinator decline be determined. This will allow for informed decisions regarding future use of this class of pesticides.
Julian Golec, Matthew Burrows, C. Scott Clem, Adekunle Adesanya, Zi Ye, and Olufemi Ajayi
Advisor: David Held
Overwhelming evidence points to neonicotinoids as a critical factor in population declines of honey bees, bumble bees, and solitary bees (Sandrock et al. 2014). Neonicotinoids are the most widely used insecticide in agroecosystems due to their systemic properties (Hopwood et al. 2012), yet the impacts of neonicotinoids on bees extend beyond their use in agricultural settings. In urban settings, neonicotinoids can be applied at rates 120 times greater than those approved for agricultural settings (Hopwood et al. 2012). As a result, treated plants retain unmetabolized, active residues in virtually all plant parts, including pollen, nectar, and guttation fluids (Girolami et al. 2009). The effects of neonicotinoids vary based on the duration (acute or long-term exposure), route of exposure (oral or contact), and the bee species tested (Hopwood et al. 2012). In addition to outright mortality of individual bees, there are also sublethal effects implicated that affect bees at the colony level. For example, decreases in bumble bee queen production, pollen foraging efficiency, worker size, the rate of larval development, and learning abilities have all been implicated as sublethal effects of neonicotinoids (Decourtye et al. 2004, Gill and Raine 2014, Whitehorn et al. 2012). Additionally, these chemicals have been documented to affect immune responses in bees, making them more susceptible to pathogenic infections such as viruses and Nosema microspores (Alaux et al. 2010). Moreover, synergistic interactions between neonicotinoids and fungicides have been documented (Iwasa et al. 2004), which may indicate interactive effects with other chemical classes, increasing the negative impact on bees.
Current risk assessment protocols regarding the impacts of neonicotinoids on honey bees are insufficient, as they are focused on acute toxicity levels and do not incorporate various routes of exposure (Blacquiére et al. 2012). Shockingly, assessments for native bees are virtually nonexistent (Hopwood et al. 2012). Due to these factors, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recently called for a review of the current protocols in order to develop new risk assessment parameters (EPA 2012). Ahead of the U.S., the European Union (EU) has temporarily banned the use of neonicotinoids until further research can address sublethal and synergistic effects (van der Sluijs et al. 2013). The U.S. should follow the efforts of the EU and temporarily ban the use of neonicotinoids before irreversible damage occurs to an already stressed food industry and an increasingly less diverse ecosystem.
Historically, the 1996 Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA) restricted the use of toxic organophosphates, which lead to the creation of a new and presumably “safer” class of insecticides: the neonicotinoids (van Steenwyk and Zalom 2005). However, research has primarily focused on the European honey bee (Apis mellifera L.), and a few native bees (e.g. Osmia lignaria Say). It has since been found that the neonicotinoids are not a suitable alternative to older chemistries (Abbott et al. 2008). By using precedents set forth by the FQPA, the U.S. should temporarily cease the use of neonicotinoids until their effects at both the individual and colony levels can be thoroughly understood. We believe that a temporary ban on this insecticide class will lead to the discovery of new and safer insecticides, ultimately replacing the neonicotinoids.
Mohammad-Amir Aghaee, Jenny Carlson, Daniel Klittich, M. Rei Scampavia, and Ralph Washington, Jr. University of California, Davis
Advisor: Michael Parrella
However, the relationship between neonicotinoid use and pollinator decline remains disputed. Neonicotinoids were registered as reduced-risk pesticides because of their insect-specific action and low mammalian toxicity (van der Sluijs et al. 2013). They were selected to replace the organophosphates, carbamates, and pyrethroids, which have known non-target effects on humans and wildlife (Fairbrother et al. 2014).
Acute and chronic studies have shown that neonicotinoids are toxic to honey bees and bumble bees (Blacquiére et al. 2012). However, numerous studies implicating neonicotinoids as a cause of honey bee losses are insufficient in rigor and depth. Studies testing toxicity at field-realistic dosages between 1-10 ppb have shown inconsistent results (Cresswell et al. 2012). In addition, not all neonicotinoids have the same level of toxicity to bees. Acetamiprid and thiacloprid have an LC50 that is five orders of magnitude less toxic than clothianidin, thiamethoxam, and imidacloprid (Brown et al. 2014).
In addition, many other factors have been documented as contributing to pollinator decline (United States Department of Agriculture [USDA] 2013). Varroa destructor (Anderson and Trueman), a mite that feeds on the hemolymph of pupae and adult bees, vectors deformed wing virus and is a principal component of colony declines. Acaricides used to control Varroa are ubiquitous in wax comb of honey bee hives. These chemicals have been shown to compromise immune response in bees, impair honey bee behavior, and reduce the number of queens (Boncristiani et al. 2012). Pathogens such as Nosema ceranae (Fries) have impacted domesticated honey bee colonies, and N. bombi (Fantham and Porter) has wreaked havoc on native bumble bee populations (Mayack and Naug 2010, Evans and Schwarz 2011).
The lack of adequate nutrition further stresses colonies (Naug 2009). This results from a combination of habitat fragmentation and land-use changes that reduce the amount of wild forage available to honey bee colonies during periods of low food supply. Native pollinator populations are especially sensitive to habitat fragmentation and loss (Potts et al. 2010). This problem is compounded by the increasing demand for pollination services in agriculture (Aizen and Harder 2009).
Pollination demand created by almond production exemplifies the synergy of all these factors against honey bees. Every February, over two million colonies are moved to California to pollinate the almond bloom. Colonies are placed in staging areas at high concentrations and fed artificial diets to supplement a lack of natural forage (Fairbrother et al. 2014). These are optimum conditions for transmitting viruses and mites between colonies.
The best approach towards addressing pollinator declines would be to improve management practices to protect pollinators in crops (USDA 2013). This includes banning certain application strategies such as seed treatments. To this end, regulatory agencies need to have stricter registration guidelines that incorporate more comprehensive bee toxicity data, such as sublethal and synergistic effects on colonies, for all pesticides and methods of application (Hopwood et al. 2012). It is very important that growers are also educated on the proper use of these pesticides, which will prevent accidental losses of honey bees.
There is no definitive scientific evidence that neonicotinoids are the primary cause of pollinator declines. Given the current state of knowledge, banning neonicotinoids is a premature and disproportionate response to a complex issue. This issue requires holistic scientific inquiry and interpretation, and cooperation among stakeholders. Any changes must be based on science rather than opinion, current trends, or fear.
Klittich, who grew up in the nursery business, will receive a two-year $10,000 scholarship, or $5000 per year. The scholarship is awarded to a master's or doctoral candidate studying horticulture or a related field and seeking a career as a researcher, scientist or educator.
Klittich, who plans to receive his doctorate in entomology in 2016, aspires to be a floriculture scientist and educator.
"I am very excited," he told AFE. "Support from the industry is a very meaningful and appreciated honor." He said he is grateful for the opportunity to "help the industry move forward" with his work on pest control and management."
The scholarship, established in 2010, is funded by contributions to AFE from the floral industry, the Ecke family and other sources.
Klittich's research focuses on increasing plant resistance to herbivorous and improving integrated pest management (IPM) programs in horticulture and floriculture. He is currently analyzing the effects of silicate fertilizers on leafmining pests in chrysanthemum and gerbera production systems.
"I intend to continue this research by testing silicate fertilizers in field trials at production facilities and on new crops," he told AFE. "This scholarship will help with technical aspects in the laboratory and allow me to travel and do more field work."
"The end goal of any applied research project should be to give useful, needed information to growers and industry personnel," Klittich said.
"Danny has given many presentations of his research at grower meetings in California as well as at regional and national programs under the auspices of the Entomological Society of America," wrote nominator Michael Parrella, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
“He has written several successful grant proposals, has a number of practical publications and he is committed to a research/extension career focused on the floriculture/nursery industry," Parrella noted. Klittich has also collaborated with growers in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, including Ocean Breeze International, Pyramid Flowers, Inc., and GroLink Chrysanthemums.
"We have been impressed with his practical and technical knowledge and his experience with research projects,” wrote Rene Van Wingerden and Phil Soderman of Ocean Breeze in their recommendation letter. “Daniel has an excellent understanding of the needs of agriculture/horticulture growers.”
Klittich, from Fillmore, Ventura County, is a graduate of Fillmore High School and valedictorian of the Class of 2006. As a youth, he worked at his family's nursery, Otto and Sons Nursery, Inc., Fillmore. He was also active in 4-H and Boy Scouts, achieving the rank of Eagle Scout.
Klittich received his bachelor degree in entomology from UC Davis in 2010. Following his graduation, he worked in the Parrella laboratory, helping to maintain the greenhouses and experimental plants and assisting with pesticide efficacy trials on several crops and pests including spider mites, leafminer and mealbugs. He enrolled in the doctorate program in 2012 and continues his work in the Parrella lab. He is the current president of UC Davis Entomology Graduate Student Association.
Active in the Entomological Society of America (ESA) and the Pacific Branch of ESA, Klittich was a member of the UC Davis championship team that won the national ESA student debate in 2014 and 2013. The 2014 topic dealt with whether the agricultural use of neonicotinoids should be banned, while the 2013 topic centered on whether to use GMOs to increase food security in regions where the technology is not universally accepted.
In addition, he is a frequent invitational speaker at ESA meetings. He presented a scientific talk on “Role of Invasive Arthropods in Introducing New Pathogens to the Pacific Branch” (2013 PBESA meeting, South Lake Tahoe) and “Influencing oviposition and feeding site selection of Liriomyza trifolii (Burgess) (Diptera: Agromyzidae) (2014 ESA meeting, Austin, Texas).
Klittich serves as a teaching assistant for a UC Davis entomology class on "Natural History of Insects" and co-organized a freshman seminar in 2013 on "Insects in Industry."
The American Floral Endowment is dedicated to advancing the industry through funding floriculture research, educational grants and scholarships. More than $15 million has been funded toward research projects benefiting the entire industry, and more than $600,000 has been funded in scholarships designed to attract and retain the future leaders of the industry.
(Editor's Note: Lori Ostrow, communications specialist with the American Floral Endowment, contributed to this news story.)
Spotlight on Danny Klittich
Klittich, who is starting his third year as a doctoral student in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, studies with major professor Michael Parrella, professor and chair of the department.
The T-shirt, publicly available for purchase, with proceeds benefitting EGSA, is golden yellow with a black illustration. Graduate student and T-shirt project coordinator Margaret “Rei” Scampavia is taking orders at firstname.lastname@example.org. Sizes range from youth small to adult double X.
Klittich says he's not an artist but has always had an interest in honey bees. He was a member of the UC Davis graduate student team that won the student debate championship, Nov. 18, at the Entomological Society of America's 62nd annual meeting in Portland, Ore. The team debated neonicotinoids, defeating Auburn (Alabama) University team. UC Davis successfully argued the con side of “Neonicotinoids Are Causing the Death of Bees Essential for Pollinating our Food Crops. The Use of Neonicotinoids Should End.” The team, captained by Mohammad-Amir Aghaee of the Larry Godfrey lab, also included Jenny Carlson, Anthony Cornel lab; Ralph Washington Jr., Steve Nadler lab; Margaret "Rei" Scampavia, Neal Williams/Edwin Lewis lab.
Klittich, from Fillmore, is a graduate of Fillmore High School and valedictorian of the Class of 2006. He grew up in the nursery business, working at his family's nursery, Otto and Sons Nursery, Inc., Fillmore. During his youth he was active in 4-H and Boy Scouts, achieving the rank of Eagle Scout.
Klittich plans to receive his doctorate in 2016. His career goal: to pursue a career in pesticide and IPM research either in the private sector or in the California University System as a farm advisor.
In addition to the honey bee t-shirt, EGSA is offering other T-shirts, most available for $15. Popular EGSA shirts depict a dung beetle, “They See Me Rollin'”; a “cuddling moth” for infants and toddlers; a weevil shirt, “See No Weevil, Hear No Weevil, Speak No Weevil”; and “The Beetles” shirt, of four beetles crossing Abbey Road, reminiscent of The Beatles pictured on their Abbey Road album. All can be ordered from Margaret “Rei” Scampavia at email@example.com.
NEWS BRIEF: April 8, 2014
UC Riverside went on to win the championship, defeating Washington State University, Pullman, Wash. Both the winning team and the runner-up team will represent the Pacific Branch at the ESA meeting, Nov. 16-19 in Portland, Ore. The winning ream receives $500 to offset travel expenses. President of the ESA is integrated pest management specialist Frank Zalom, professor of entomology at UC Davis.
At the 2013 PBESA meeting, UC Riverside took first, and UC Davis, second.
The 2014 UC Davis team members, advised by Extension specialist Larry Godfrey of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, who participated in the semi-finals were:
- Matan Shelomi, doctoral student who studies with major professor Lynn Kimsey
- Mohammad-Amir Aghaee, doctoral student who studies with major professor Larry Godfrey
- Rei Scampavia, doctoral candidate in the Edwin Lewis and Neal Williams lab
- Alexander Nguyen, an undergraduate student majoring in entomology who is an undergraduate researcher in the Bruce Hammock lab
- Alternate: Danny Klittich, doctoral student who studies with Michael Parrella (Klittich is also president of the Entomologiy Graduate Student Association (EGSA)
In the preliminary competition, Klittich served as a team member with Shelomi, Aghaee, and Nguyen.
The Linnaean Games is a lively question-and-answer, college bowl-style competition on entomology-based facts with four-member teams. Each must be in a degree program (bachelor's, master's or doctorate) or have completed a degree within one year of the contest.
Each team scores points by correctly answering a question posed by the moderator. There are two types of questions: toss-ups and bonuses, with each question worth 10 points.
One of the questions in the preliminary games: "Edward Knipling developed a new insect control technique. What was the insect he worked?"
Answer: "Primarily the screwworm fly with the sterile insect technique (SIT)."
Among the other questions asked of the various teams:
Question: What three hexapod orders comprise the "entognatha?"
Answer: Protura, Collembola and Diplura.
Question: Who is the current ESA President?
Answer: Frank Zalom
Question: What is the Arizona state Insect?
Answer: The two-tailed swallowtail butterfly, Papilio multicaudata
Question: Who wrote the poem "To A Louse," which opens with this stanza:
"Ha! whaur ye gaun, ye crowlin ferlie?
Your impudence protects you sairly;
I canna say but ye strunt rarely,
Owre gauze and lace;
Tho', faith! I fear ye dine but sparely
On sic a place."
Answer: Robert Burns.
UC Riverside correctly answered the Arizona state insect question in the UCR-WSU championship match. UCR also answered the entognatha question, although UC Davis knew the answer, too.
The Zalom question was asked during another two teams' match.
The Burns question was a bonus for UC Davis, but the team did not know the answer.
- University of Arkansas and Mississippi State University; their topic was "What is the Best Individual Solution to Preserving the World's Current Biodiversity?"
- Oklahoma State University and Louisiana State University; their topic was "Using Citizen Scientists to Collect Data in Scientific Experiments?"
The rules posted on the ESA website:
Total time for each debate will be approximately 45 minutes.
1. For each topic, there will be a five-minute unbiased introduction. This neutral introduction will be assigned to someone other than the two teams in a particular debate.
2. Following the unbiased introduction, there will be a seven-minute statement by the first team outlining their plan to implement the given topic. Only during this seven minute presentations are teams allowed to use Powerpoint slides. The PPT slides can contain text and only two colors (including background and text).
3. This will be followed by a three-minute cross-examination by the second team. This is an opportunity for the second team to clarify points made by the first team. This time is only for clarification, not for the actual debate.
4. The second team then gives their seven-minute statement. Ideally, they will anticipate some of what the first team has to say and will have enough data researched to be able to show the flaws and problems with the first team's plan. The second team usually does not present an alternative plan, as the status quo is often the alternative.
5. The first team will then have an opportunity for a three-minute cross examination of the second team's argument. This time is also only for clarification.
6. Two-minute second team rebuttal
7. Two-minute first team rebuttal
8. Two-minute second team rebuttal
9. Two-minute first team rebuttal
10. Questions from the judges and the audience (10 minutes)A panel of judges evaluates each team’s argument, which is limited to only 15 of their references. It is submitted to the Student Affairs Committee chair prior to the meeting. Following the meeting, the team has the chance to revise its manuscript, which is then compiled for submission to the American Entomologist journal.