Bee scientist James Nieh, a UC San Diego professor in the Section of Ecology, Behavior and Evolution, Division of Biological Sciences, will present the first fall quarter seminar hosted by UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
Nieh will speak on "Animal Information Warfare: How Sophisticated Communications May Arise from the Race to Find an Advantage in a Deadly Game Between Honey Bees and Their Predators" at 4:10 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 25 in 122 Briggs Hall. Brian Johnson, associate professor of entomology, is the host.
"In addition to the classical arm race that has evolved between predators and prey, information races also occur, which can lead to the evolution of sophisticated animal communication," Nieh says in his abstract. "Such information can shape the food web and contribute to the evolution of remarkable communication strategies, including eavesdropping, referential signaling and communication within and between species, including between predators and prey."
"I focus on the world of information exchange (acoustic, olfactory and visual) that has co-evolved between Asian honey bees (Apis cerana, A. florea, and A. dorsata) and their predators, the Asian hornets (Vespa velutina and V. mandarinia)," Nieh says. "I will explore how and why such information races occur through the remarkable examples provided by these high social insects."
He presented a TED talk on "Bees and Us: an Ancient and Future Symbiosis" in July 2019.
A native of Taiwan, Nieh grew up in Southern California and received his bachelor's degree in organismic and evolutionary biology in 1991 from Harvard University, Cambridge, and his doctorate in neurobiology and behavior from Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., in 1997. He subsequently received an NSF-NATO postdoctoral fellowship to study at the University of Würzburg in German. A Harvard junior fellowship followed.
Nieh joined the faculty of the Section of Ecology, Behavior and Evolution in 1997 as an assistant professor, advancing to associate professor in 2007 and professor in 2009. He served as vice chair of the section from 2009 to 2014, and as chair from 2014 to 2017.
His latest co-authored research, published in the journal Chemosphere in 2019, is titled Combined Nutritional Stress and a New Systemic Pesticide (flupyradifurone, Sivanto®) Reduce Bee Survival, Food Consumption, Flight Success, and Thermoregulation.
The ground-breaking study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was led by NIEHS-funded scientists Robert Tukey, director of the Superfund Research Program at UC San Diego and Bruce Hammock, director of the UC Davis Superfund Research Program.
In its January newsletter, NIEHS ranked the triclosan study No. 2 in grant-funded research published in 2015. Some 2514 NIEHS-funded research papers were published in 2015. The institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, also singled out 27 other papers for special recognition.
Triclosan is a widely used antibacterial chemical found in cosmetics, soaps, shampoos, toothpastes and many other household products, said Hammock, who holds a joint appointment with the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology and the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center. “This study, using laboratory mice, raises concerns about the safety of triclosan in humans,” he said. These findings add to earlier reports triclosan can disrupt hormones and impair muscle contraction.
The paper, “The Commonly Used Antimicrobial Additive Triclosan is a Liver Tumor Promoter,” drew widespread attention from news media, scientists and consumers.
The team also chemically induced liver tumors in the mice and found that the mice exposed to triclosan showed a large increase in tumor multiplicity, size, and incidence compared to unexposed mice.
Hammock said the findings suggest that triclosan's negative effects on the liver may result from interference with the constitutive androstane receptor, which plays a role in clearing foreign chemicals from the body.
Other co-authors of the paper are Mei-Fei Yueh, Koji Taniguchi, Shujuan Chen, R. M. Evans and Michael Karin, all of UC San Diego; and Ronald M. Evans, Salk Institute for Biological Studies.
Hammock was featured in the January 2015 edition of Chemical Research in Toxicology, and in the Sept. 4, 2014 edition of Newsweek in a piece titled "Is Cancer Lurking in Your Toothpaste? (And Your Soap? And Your Lipstick? Hammock called triclosan “quite a good antimicrobial” that belongs in the hospital, not on the kitchen counter, and told reporter Alexander Nazaryan, “There's no reason for it to be there" (in hand and dish soaps).
The research was funded, in part, by U.S. Public Health Service grants ES010337, GM086713, GM100481, A1043477, ES002710 and ES004699.
His topic is""Do Positive Species Interactions Promote Invasions? The Role of Ant-Hemipteran Mutualisms in Ant Invasions." The seminar takes place from 12:10 to 1 p.m. in 122 Briggs. Host is assistant professor Brian Johnson, who coordinates the winter quarter seminars. Plans call for video-recording the seminar for later posting on UCTV.
"Mutualistic and facilitative interactions encourage the establishment and spread of introduced species to a degree that is currently underappreciated," said Holway in his abstract. "Commonly formed mutualistic associations between introduced ants and honeydew-producing Hemiptera alter the abundance and behavior of these ants in ways that directly contribute to their ecological success. Our research centers on the red imported fire ant (Solenopsis invicta) and the Argentine ant (Linepithema humile), the two most widespread, abundant and ecologically damaging introduced ants in North America"
"As with most interactions between ants and honeydew-producing Hemiptera, partnerships that involve either S. invicta or L. humile tend to be general, with the ants commonly and opportunistically forming associations with a wide variety of aphids, scales, and mealybugs (including both native and non-native species). Using a combination of experimental approaches and isotopic analyses, our research demonstrates that assimilation of carbohydrate-rich resources (e.g., honeydew, nectar) elevates levels of colony growth and affects worker behavioral traits in ways that likely contribute to competitive performance."
"Intense interspecific competition in their native Argentina constrains the ability of S. invicta and L. humile to control honeydew-producing Hemiptera (and other accessible sources of carbohydrates), whereas these invaders dominate these resources in their introduced US range. Consistent with this strong pattern, nitrogen isotopic data reveal that S. invicta and L. humile from populations in the US occupy a lower trophic position compared to that occupied by these species in Argentina. Given the high densities often achieved by introduced ants, their interactions with honeydew-producing insects may represent an important and largely underappreciated form of herbivory."
Holway advanced to professor in the Division of Biological Sciences at UC San Diego in 2011. He has served as director of the UC San Diego Natural Reserve System since 2010.
He is the author of more than 60 peer-reviewed publications, including research in Ecological Entomology, Oecologia, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Ecology, Insectes Sociaux, Molecular Ecology, and Journal of Experimental Biology. Among the most recent:
LeVan, K.E., K-L.J.Hung, K.R. McCann, J. Ludka & D.A. Holway. Floral visitation by the Argentine ant reduces pollinator visitation and seed set in the coast barrel cactus, Ferocactus viridescens. Oecologia, In press.
Yoo, H.J., M.C. Kizner & D.A. Holway. Ecological effects of multi-species, ant-hemipteran mutualisms in citrus. Ecological Entomology 38:505-514.
Wilder, S.M., T.R. Barnum, D.A. Holway, A.V. Suarez & M.D. Eubanks. 2013. Introduced fire ants can exclude native ants from critical mutualist-provided resources. Oecologia 172:197-205.
Wilder, S.M., D.A. Holway, A.V. Suarez, E.G. LeBrun & M.D. Eubanks. 2011. Intercontinental differences in resource use reveal the importance of mutualisms in fire ant invasions. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 108:20639-20644.
Yoo, H.J. & D.A. Holway. 2011. Context-dependence in an ant-aphid mutualism: direct effects of tending intensity on aphid performance. Ecological Entomology 36:450-458.
Wilder, S.M., D.A. Holway, A.V. Suarez & M.D. Eubanks. 2011. Macronutrient content of plant-based food affects growth of a carnivorous arthropod. Ecology 92:325-332.
LeBrun, E.G., M. Moffett & D.A. Holway. 2011. Convergent evolution of levee building behavior among distantly related ant species in a flood-plain ant assemblage. Insectes Sociaux 58:263-269.
Wilson, E.E. & D.A. Holway. 2010. Multiple mechanisms underlie displacement of solitary Hawaiian Hymenoptera by an invasive social wasp. Ecology 91:3294-3302.
Wilson, E.E, C. Sidhu, K.E. LeVan & D.A. Holway. 2010. Pollen foraging behavior of solitary Hawaiian bees revealed through molecular pollen analysis. Molecular Ecology 19: 4823-4829.
Menke,S.B., A.V. Suarez, C.V. Tillberg, C.T. Chou & D.A. Holway. 2010. Trophic ecology of the invasive Argentine ant: spatio-temporal variation in resource assimilation. Oecologia 164:763-773.
Wilson, E.E., C.V. Young & D.A. Holway. 2010. Predation or scavenging? Thoracic muscle pH and rates of water loss reveal cause of death in arthropods. Journal of Experimental Biology 213:2640-2646.
Kay, A.D., T. Zumbusch, J.L. Heinen, T.C. Marsh, & D.A. Holway. 2010. Nutrition and interference competition have interactive effects on the behavior and performance of Argentine ants. Ecology 91:57-64.