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.
Scott is the recipient of the C. W. Woodworth Award, the highest honor given by PBESA. He will present a 20-minute seminar at the meeting.
In addition, the department's Linnaean team will compete at the PBESA meeting for a chance to participate in the national ESA's Linnaean Games. In the Linnaean Games, university teams--primarily comprised of graduate students--answer randomly selected questions about insects, entomologists, and entomological facts. It's a fun-filled competition with friendly rivalries. Further details on the Linnaean game will be announced later.
The ESA meeting is set Nov. 15-18 in Minneapolis.
The PBESA meeting, to be held in in the Coeur d'Alene Resort, is themed “Celebrating Entomological Discoveries in the Pacific Branch.”
The opening plenary speaker is Bethany Marshall of Washington State University who will discuss "Natureas Teacher, Insect as Muse." See the official announcement.
Links (read about their work)
This is the third consecutive year that a UC Davis graduate student has won the prestigious award, the highest student award given by PBESA. Kelly Hamby of the Frank Zalom lab, won it in 2013; and Matan Shelomi, a graduate student in the Lynn Kimsey lab, Bohart Museum of Entomology, won it in 2012.
Aghaee, a fifth year Ph.D. candidate working on rice water weevil management in California rice, will receive the award at PBESA's 99th annual meeting, set April 12-15 in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, and will present a talk on the rice water weevil, Lissorhoptrus oryzophilus. He will be among the six Comstock recipients, all winners from their individual branches, honored at the national ESA meeting, Nov. 15-18, 2015 in Minneapolis, Minn.
The Pacific Branch of ESA encompasses 11 U.S. states (Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming); several U.S. territories, including American Samoa, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands; and parts of Canada and Mexico.
“Mohammad took on a very difficult project for his dissertation research,” said Extension entomologist Larry Godfrey, who nominated Aghaee for the award. “His project deals with the most important invertebrate pest of rice in California, the rice water weevil. The challenges arose not only from working in the rice system--wading through mud for hours--but also from working with this insect that cannot be reared in the laboratory and which has one generation per year. Therefore, all the field studies had to be conducted within the short window of time each year.”
Aghaee received his bachelor's degree in environmental sciences, genetics and plant biology in 2010 from UC Berkeley, with high distinction. He obtained his master's degree in entomology from UC Davis in 2012, and expects to receive his doctorate in December 2015.
Aghaee fostered his interest in entomology through his employment as an undergraduate research assistant at UC Berkeley in the lab of aquatic entomologist Vincent Resh. Aghaee also traces his interest in entomology and pest management to his family's large garden, where they grew vegetables and fruits.
When he joined the Godfrey lab, Aghaee was awarded the competitive UC Davis Eugene Cota-Robles Fellowship. His other honors include the William and Kathleen Golden International Agriculture Fellowship, and vegetation management award and a field studies scholarship. He teaches or serves as a teaching assistant for entomology classes and is a past president of the Entomology Graduate Student Association.
“Mohammad has a passion for public speaking and debating stemming from his involvement in the Berkeley Model Nations Alumni Association, starting in 2006, which organized crisis simulations for high school students around important political events,” Godfrey said.
Aghaee and Godfrey recently published an open-access article appearing in the Journal of Integrated Pest Management that discusses the rice water weevil's life history and invasion biology, as well as management strategies and future directions of research. They told the story of the weevil since it was first identified as a pest in 1881 by C. V. Riley and L. O. Howard. They then discussed reasons why it has been able to spread so rapidly — up to 36 kilometers per year in some cases — which is partly because of its ability to reproduce asexually.
“This invasive ability is aided by a particular and peculiar aspect of this weevil's biology, the fact that a small percentage of the population in its native range reproduces by parthenogenesis,” they wrote.
The most harmful insect pest of rice in the United States, it causes yield losses of up to 25 percent. Adults inflict damage by consuming leaf tissue, and the larvae feed on the roots of rice plants. A native of the southeastern U.S., the rice water weevil invaded Japan in 1976, Korea in 1980, China in 1988, and Italy in 2004.
Aghaee maintains secondary interests in post-Renaissance European history and contemporary Middle Eastern politics. He explores some of these themes in his freshman seminar titled "Bugs, Germs, and Steel: A History of Entomology in Warfare" where he and his colleagues teach students how basic scientific research and ecology has influenced human conflicts and technological progress. Outside of entomology, his leisure activities include oil painting, language acquisition, and culinary specialization in Persian and Indo-Pakistani cuisines.
The Comstock 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).
Zeroing in on the Rice Water Weevil
UC Davis Debate Team Wins ESA Championship
From Feb. 9, 2015 edition of Entomology Today, Entomological Society of America
A New Resources Against the Rice Water Weevil
Luckily, rice growers now have a new resource for controlling it. An open-access article appearing in the Journal of Integrated Pest Management discusses the rice water weevil's life history and invasion biology, as well as management strategies and future directions of research.
“This invasive ability is aided by a particular and peculiar aspect of this weevil's biology, the fact that a small percentage of the population in its native range reproduces by parthenogenesis,” they wrote.
The authors also discuss methods of monitoring and sampling — including the use of aquatic barrier traps — as well as management options, including cultural control methods such as draining fields, delayed planting, winter flooding, and nutrient augmentation. They also suggest that insect-resistant transgenic varieties, such as a newly-developed Bt rice plant transformed with the Cry3A gene, might be another management option if approved for cultivation.
Microbial control options using the entomopathogenic fungus Beauveria bassiana and the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis are also discussed, as are other management options which may be available in the future.--Richard Levine
(Editor's Note: Larry Godfrey is an Extension entomologist with the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology and Mohammad-Amir Aghaee is his graduate student.)
DAVIS--A team of five graduate students from the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology will compete Tuesday, Nov. 18 in the Entomological Society of America's student debates at the 62nd annual meeting in Portland, Ore. Their topic: neonicotinoids.
The team, captained by Mohammad-Amir Aghaee of the Larry Godfrey lab, includes Jenny Carlson, Anthony Cornel lab; Margaret "Rei" Scampavia, Neal Williams/Edwin Lewis lab; Ralph Washington Jr., Steve Nadler lab; and Daniel Klittich, Michael Parrella lab.
Parrella, professor and chair of the department, serves as their advisor and coach.
UC Davis, which won the overall championship last year, will debate the Auburn (Alabama) University team, comprised of Olufemi Ajayi, Adekunle Adesanya, Julian Golec, Matt Burrows, Scott Clem, and alternate Zi Ye. Associate professor David Held advises the team.
Auburn will present information that neonicotinoids are causing the death of bees essential for pollinating our food crops, and that the use of neonicotinoids should end. UC Davis is the con team and will present evidence to the contrary.
The theme of the Entomology 2014 Debates is “Management Strategies: Solutions to Grand Challenges.”
In addition to neonics, other team topics are:
- The calls for the end of invasion biology are justified; this field should be replaced by the ecology of species redistribution. Washington State University vs. Louisiana State University.
- What is the single best tool to reduce malaria cases throughout the world? Florida A&M University vs. Kansas State University
The captain, Mohammad-Amir Aghaee, is heavily involved in ESA. He has been part of the debate and Linnean Games teams for four years. “Our debate team record has been 2-1 since 2011 and in 2013 we won 1st place for best team,” he said. He has participated in the student 10-minute paper competitions for four years, covering such topics as Lygus bug movements in bush beans, efficacy of Bacillus thuringiensis spp. galleriae against rice water weevil, and preliminary research on winter flooding effectiveness against rice water weevil. He won first place for his winter flood presentation in 2013.
Aghaee is a fifth year Ph.D. candidate working on rice water weevil (Lissorhoptrus oryzophilus) management in California rice. The majority of his dissertation research is dedicated toward developing alternative management options for growers. “I have examined the use of Bacillus thuringiensis spp. galleriae as a biopesticide for rice water weevil and explored the mechanisms of winter flooding rice fields as a cultural control against weevil larvae. I am currently examining the possible role of silicon augmentation as a means of increasing rice tolerance to weevil damage and the potential threat of Brown marmorated stinkbug (Halyomorpha halys) to California rice.
He has secondary interests in post-Renaissance European history and contemporary Middle Eastern politics. He explores some of these themes in his freshman seminar titled "Bugs, Germs, and Steel: A History of Entomology in Warfare" where he and his colleagues teach students how basic scientific research and ecology has influenced human conflicts and technological progress. Outside of entomology, his leisure activities include oil painting, language acquisition, and culinary specialization in Persian and Indo-Pakistani cuisines.
ESA president Frank Zalom, UC Davis distinguished professor of entomology, will preside over the 62nd annual meeting of the ESA, which meets Nov 16-19 in the Oregon Convention Center, Portland, Ore.
More than than 3,200 insect scientists have already registered, according to the ESA's communications program manager, Richard Levine. It is expected to be one of the largest entomology meetings in recent memory.
"The Northwest, with its natural beauty and location at the edge of the Pacific rim, is an ideal place to reflect on our Entomology 2014 theme: Grand Challenges Beyond Our Horizons," said Zalom, in an ESA news release "This year, ESA will be launching an effort to identify the most important challenges to which our discipline can make significant contributions.
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.
Professor Diane Ullman will receive ESA's distinguished achievement award in teaching. This is the highest honor that the 7000-member ESA presents to its outstanding teachers.
Ullman earlier was named the recipient of the outstanding teaching award from the Pacific Branch of ESA. Ullman chaired the UC Davis Department of Entomology in 2004-2005, and served as an associate dean for undergraduate academic programs, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. from 2005 to 2014. (See more information.)
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)