Nansen, associate professor, Department of Entomology and Nematology, is serving as the guest editor of the issue, "Remote Sensing to Detect and Diagnose Organismal Responses." The journal (impact factor 4.118) is a leading outlet for research articles and reviews on all aspects related to remote sensing.
"I'm inviting authors to submit studies that go beyond the detection of an optical reflectance response and tie a thorough analysis of remote sensing data to other types of data (physiological, molecular, genetic, biochemical)," Nansen said. "In other words, the special issue will embrace a phenomics approach, in which the overall goal is to, at least partially, explain why and how organisms exhibit an optical reflectance response to stressors and/or treatments."
As the guest editor, Nansen said he is seeking articles describing "exciting applications of remote sensing technologies to detect and diagnose differences and/or stress across all kingdoms."
Contributions are due by March 2020. For more information, access the website: https://www.mdpi.com/journal/remotesensing/special_issues/rs4organismal_response.
The UC Davis entomologist specializes in applied insect ecology, integrated pest management and remote sensing, including proximal (lab) and aerial (drone) applications of remote sensing in agriculture; and robustness and accuracy of optical classification algorithms.
Nansen, who joined the UC Davis faculty in 2014, completed his doctorate in zoology at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. He previously held faculty positions at Texas A&M, Texas Tech, and most recently, the University of Western Australia. He may be reached at email@example.com.
If you're the kin of Emily Bick, you take her to the Broadway stage musical, Beetlejuice, in New York City. They knew she'd be interested because (1) she's an entomologist (2) she enjoys entomology-themed shows and (3) she previously reviewed another play, “An Entomologist's Love Story,” which Entomological Society of America (ESA) published on its Entomology Today website. That piece drew rave reviews.
So, in keeping with her newly acquired “entomological theater critic credentials,” Bick reviewed Beetlejuice. Entomology Today published her piece today (Sept. 20.)
“I entered the experience knowing little about the shop but with high hopes for its entomological potential since its name appeared to reference Order Coleoptera's common name,” wrote Bick, an agricultural entomologist who will begin a postdoctoral position at the University of Copenhagen this fall.
She began with: “Like a caterpillar recently exposed to juvenile hormone, the insect-themed potential for the musical Beetlejuice was high but never quite metamorphosized.”
Bick noted there were several entomological references, including “two Scarabaeidae camouflaged within the black and white stripes” on the playbook cover.
“While writers opted for entomology appropriate spelling in both the title and song, the stage curtain listed the name as Betelgeuse,” she wrote. “This entomologically named character mentions a few throw away references to insects including describing his alarming goal of house haunting—by saying ‘frightened as a fly.'”
One character “was threatened with having teeth transformed into scorpions—an arthropod but not an insect,” Bick pointed out. “The demon-transformed house was decorated with chairs the spitting image of Tortoise beetle larvae (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae, tribe: Cassidini) and a statue that reminded me of many immature Lepidopterans.”
“However, insect references were always used to enhance the macabre theme, rather than as an independent topic. The musical was about death, a subject of which insects have a long association with. This association is likely due to the progression of insect colonization on an animal corpse—a process so predictable, forensic entomology is often used to determine the time of death of the recently deceased. Their correlation was expanded in the era of sideshows which featured insects as bizarre. I found myself wistfully thinking of all the places insects could be used (e.g., every reference to decomposing), rather than simply propping up the ghoulish atmosphere.”
Although the show lacked insect credibility, she found the show incredible. “It was hilarious, clever, attuned to the times, and visually stunning, and the ‘goth' character Lydia (played by 18-year-old Sophia Anne Caruso) completely stole the show. Yet, judged on entomological criterion, Beetlejuice fell short of its potential.”
The Broadway stage musical is based on the film, Beetlejuice, the 1988 American fantasy-comedy-horror film directed by Tim Burton (Pee Wee's Big Adventure). It is about "a deceased couple who try to haunt the new inhabitants of their former home and call for help from a devious bio-exorcist ghost named Betelgeuse (pronounced "Beetlejuice"), who is summoned by saying his name three times," according to Wikipedia.
Bick holds three degrees in entomology: a bachelor's degree from Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., and a master's degree and doctorate from UC Davis. She is a Board Certified Entomologist (with specialties in plant-insect and medical and veterinary entomology), awarded by ESA. While at UC Davis, she was active in the Linnaean Games and helped two teams win national championships. ESA describes the Linnaean Games as "a lively question-and-answer, college bowl-style competition on entomological facts played between university-sponsored student teams."
(Entomologist-theatre critic Bick may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
And that's grounds for concern, researchers say.
Agricultural entomologist Christian Nansen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology and four colleagues analyzed 15 brands of roasted coffee beans, purchased at an area supermarket on two dates about six months apart, and using hyperspectral imaging technology, found “they were all over the board.”
“There was no consistency in the protein/sugar content and within the roasting classes of light, medium, medium dark, and dark or between sampling dates,” said Nansen, who specializes in insect ecology and remote sensing and uses imaging technology to quantify variability and identify trends and patterns in biological systems. “I thought this would be interesting to apply my hyperspectral imaging technology to a commercial system rather than a biological system.”
The research, “Using Hyperspectral Imaging to Characterize the Consistency of Coffee Brands and Their Respective Roasting Classes" is published in the current edition of the Journal of Food Engineering. Hyperspectral imaging involves collecting and processing information from across the electromagnetic spectrum.
Co-authors of the paper are postdoctoral research Keshav Singh of the Nansen lab; assistant professor Christopher Simmons and doctoral candidate Brittany Allison, both in the UC Davis Department of Food Science and Technology; and Ajmal Mian of the University of Western Australia's Computer Science and Software Engineering.
The study is not only relevant to the coffee industry and consumers but to a wide range of commercial food and beverage brands, Nansen said. Statistics show that Americans, the leading consumers of coffee in the world, consume 400 million cups of coffee per day. They spend an average of $21 per week on coffee.
Nansen, a coffee drinker, came by the topic naturally and also out of curiosity. “I got interested in this topic because I like coffee but also because I am certain that many food and beverage products vary markedly in quality. I thought this would be interesting to apply my hyperspectral imaging technology to a commercial system rather than a biological system.”
“The uniqueness and consistency of commercial food and beverage brands are critically important for their marketability,” the researchers wrote in the abstract. “Thus, it is important to develop quality control tools and measures, so that both companies and consumers can monitor whether a given food product or beverage meets certain quality expectations and/or is consistent when purchased at different times or at different locations.”
“We acquired hyperspectral imaging data (selected bands out of 220 narrow spectral bands from 408 nanometers to 1008 nanometers from ground samples of the roasted coffee beans, and reflectance-based classification of roasting classes was associated with fairly low accuracy.”
Their research provides evidence that the “combination of hyperspectral imaging and a general quality indicator (such as extractable protein content) can be used to monitor brand consistency and quality control,” the scientists wrote. “We demonstrated that a non-destructive method, potentially real-time and automated, and quantitative method can be used to monitor the consistence of a highly complex beverage product.”
The research was funded in part by Mian's ARC Fellowship.
Yes, it does, says UC Davis agricultural entomologist Christian Nansen of the Department of Entomology and Nematology, who set out to investigate whether there's a relationship between the “physiological” and “behavioral” resistance in insects and found “some quite interesting patterns.”
In a first-of-its-kind research, published March 4 in the Public Library of Science (PLOS), Nansen and his colleagues discovered that “certainly there was an effect of level of physiological resistance or susceptibility of moth strains” – this they demonstrated by comparing two moth strains with high and low levels of insecticide resistance. But they also found intriguing differences in life stages. “We found that ovipositing females and developing larvae may not show the same levels of behavioral responses to insecticides.”
“This is all very interesting and clearly links theoretical evolutionary biology with applied pest management,” he said, concluding that “behavioral avoidance ought to be considered in evaluating the performance of an insecticide.”
The research, “Behavioral Avoidance—Will Physiological Insecticide Resistance Level of Insect Strains Affect their Oviposition and Movement Responses,” by Christian Nansen and fellow scientists Maria Nansen of UC Davis and Olivier Baissac, Kevin Powis and Greg Baker, all of Australia, targeted the Brassica pest, Plutella xylostella, commonly known as “the cabbage moth.” It is responsible for an estimated $4 to $5 billion loss annually in the United States, Nansen said. Cole crops are the moth's host plant. It lays its eggs only on the family Brassicaceae. Its larvae or caterpillars feed on the leaves, floral stalks and flower buds.
The main objective of the Christian Nansen-led study was to quantify two possible types of behavioral avoidance:
- under choice conditions with leaves having different levels of pesticide spray coverage (including an untreated control leaf), females oviposit predominantly on leaf surfaces without insecticides, and
- larvae avoiding insecticide-treated leaf surfaces.
“As a model system, we studied movement and oviposition responses by two strains of DBM denoted ‘single resistance' and ‘double resistance' based on their levels of physiological resistance to two insecticides: gamma-cyhalothrin and spinetoram,” they wrote.
The researchers compared behavioral responses by these two strains as part of characterizing the relative effect of levels of physiological resistance on the likelihood of insects showing signs of behavioral avoidance.
“Although we are unaware of any theoretical framework providing clear predictions of expected behavioral responses by phenotypes with different of physiological resistance," Nansen said, "we predicted that: (1) DBM individuals with confirmed physiological resistance to a given combination of dosage and insecticide show similar movement and oviposition responses to host plant surfaces with/without insecticides, and (2) DBM individuals should avoid insecticide treated surfaces and show significant changes in movement and oviposition behavior, if they are exposed to a combination of dosage and insecticide to which they are susceptible.”
Nansen said the study “highlights the possibility of associations between physiological resistance and avoidance responses by ovipositing females. In addition, larvae from the single resistance strain moved significant faster than those from the double resistance strain, when the entire arena was treated with either gamma-cyhalothrin or spinetoram.”
"Our study highlights the importance of conducting behavioral studies as part of characterizing effects of selective pressures by insecticides and as part of performance evaluations of insecticides.”
The diamondback moth, thought to be of European origin, is found throughout the Americas and in Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, New Zealand and the Hawaiian Islands. It was first observed in North America in 1854 in Illinois and by 1883 had spread to Florida and the Rocky Mountains, data shows.
The diamondback moth was the first insect found to have become resistant to biological control by the Bt toxin (from Bacillus thuringiensis) in the field. In the 1980s, the moth developed resistance to pyrethroids, and today, virtually all insecticides are ineffective, entomologists say.
Cold winters help to kill off overwintering pests. In California, natural enemies can often effectively control the diamondback moth, according to the UC Integrated Pest Management (UC IPM) Program website. “In southern California, the ichneumonid wasp, Diadegma insularis, has been identified as the most common parasite. Trichogramma pretiosum may also attack diamondback eggs," IPM says. "Various predators such as ground beetles, true bugs, syrphid fly larvae, and spiders can be important factors in controlling populations.”
The review, co-authored by Nansen and Norman Elliott of the U.S. Department of Food and Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service, Stillwater, Okla., explains remote sensing and highlights how it inﬂuences entomological research by “enabling scientists to nondestructively monitor how individual insects respond to treatments and ambient conditions. Furthermore, novel remote sensing technologies are creating intriguing interdisciplinary bridges between entomology and disciplines such as informatics and electrical engineering.”
“To most people, remote sensing refers to imaging-and reﬂectance-based surveying mounted on airborne devices and vehicles such as airplanes or satellites,” they pointed out. They rely on a broader definition: “The measurement or acquisition of information of some property of an object or phenomenon by a recording device that is not in physical or intimate contact with the object or phenomenon under study.”
“Consequently, even imaging through a microscope may be considered a type of remote sensing,” they wrote. “In many remote sensing applications, the data are collected in parts of the radiometric spectrum that are not detectable by the human eye…We wish to emphasize that entomological remote sensing is expanding in many directions and creating intriguing opportunities for collaborative research between entomology and disciplines such as informatics and electrical engineering. “
Remote sensing has been an established research discipline for more than four decades, Nansen related. “It was Isaac Newton who discovered that light could be separated into a spectrum of colors, and approximately 100 years later, James Clerk Maxwell discovered that light as we see it is part of a very wide radiometric spectrum.”
(See the Nansen/Elliott review at http://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev-ento-010715-023834)
The Annual Review of Entomology, launched in 1956, reviews significant developments in the field of entomology, including biochemistry and physiology, morphology and development, behavior and neuroscience, ecology, agricultural entomology and pest management, biological control, forest entomology, acarines and other arthropods, medical and veterinary entomology, pathology, vectors of plant disease, genetics, genomics, and systematics, evolution, and biogeography.
Nansen, who joined the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology in 2015, is focusing on four major themes: host plant stress detection, host selection by arthropods, pesticide performance, and use of reflectance-based imaging in a wide range of research applications.
He is using his international expertise to zero in on more sustainable farming systems, better food production and fewer pesticides.
“The agricultural sector in California is so exciting, because of its diversity and economic importance,” said Nansen, whose agricultural entomology expertise encompasses seven countries including his native Denmark. “Secondly, there is a strong spirit of innovation in this region, and I hope to contribute to the development of highly advanced crop monitoring systems and decision support tools, so that farming practices can become less reliant on pesticides.”
Born and educated in Denmark, Nansen received his master's degree in biology from the University of Copenhagen in 1995 and his doctorate in zoology from the Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University in Denmark in 2000. He accepted positions in Portugal, Benin, United States, UK and Australia before joining the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology in January as an assistant professor. Nansen previously held faculty positions at Texas A&M, Texas Tech, and most recently at the University of Western Australia.
His international experience also includes being an international exchange student at the University of Lisbon, Portugal and a visiting professor at Northwest A&F University, Yangling, China.
Christian Nansen's Website