Posts Tagged: entomology
This is the fourth in a series featuring a few scientists whose work exemplifies UC ANR's public value for California.
UC Cooperative Extension entomology advisor David Haviland has been recognized by his peers, his clientele, and extension directors who oversee programs in 14 western U.S. states. It's a Cooperative Extension hat trick unusual among UCCE mid-career professionals.
“The combination of three awards for me is an incredible honor because I know there are a lot of good extension programs out there,” Haviland said.
In July 2019, Haviland accepted an Award of Excellence from the Western Extension Directors Association (WEDA) on behalf of a team of scientists and commodity representatives. In 2018, he received a Distinguished Service Award for Excellence in Extension from UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, UCCE's parent organization, and the Pacific Branch Entomological Society of America honored him with an award for Excellence in Extension.
In addition, Haviland just completed a two-year term as president of the Association of Applied IPM Ecologists.“This is a professional society for growers and pest control advisers who are advocates of integrated pest management,” Haviland said. “I was elected president of an association of my clientele, the people I'm here to serve.”
While Haviland is providing pest management solutions for farmers, he is also adding to UC Cooperative Extension's value to the community of Kern County and California. For example, after two years of research and extension in almond pest management, pest control advisors who participated in one or more of Haviland's activities reported a 25% increase in using a new ‘green' technology called mating disruption for navel orangeworm control. Mating disruption reduces pesticide use, helping to safeguard an abundant and healthy food supply.
When spotted wing drosophila invaded the southern San Joaquin Valley, cherry growers lost tens of millions of dollars. Haviland responded by developing field data on pest phenology, chemical controls, and the effects of pesticide degradation of the efficacy of control programs. He combined this information into guidelines that he taught to cherry growers. Using these guidelines saves cherry growers in Kern County millions of dollars in averted losses annually, promoting more economic prosperity in the region.
Haviland devoted his career to UCCE. After a two-year mission in Buenos Aires, where he learned to speak Spanish fluently, and a bachelor's degree in zoology at Brigham Young University, the Salinas native joined UC Cooperative Extension as an agricultural assistant at the Monterey County office in 1997. There he worked with academics in entomology, plant pathology, weed science, soil science and viticulture.
“Before that job, I wasn't clear what UCCE was,” he said. “I was shocked that there was such a thing as a career that allowed you to study insects, work in agriculture, do research, teach and get paid for it. All those things fascinated me and were part of my skill set.”
Knowing that a farm advisor position requires a master's degree, he moved with his family to Davis, where he undertook coursework in plant protection and pest management. During his last semester, a unique position at UC Cooperative Extension became available. Haviland applied and was offered the position as the Kern County entomology advisor affiliated with the UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program. He began work in Bakersfield the day after his master's thesis was signed in July 2002.
“I was really excited for the job,” Haviland said. “I was excited to be a farm advisor in a big agricultural county. And also, the Statewide IPM Program gave me a peer group in entomology to help me early in my career. That was invaluable.”
The 2019 WEDA award recognized teams that were assembled over 15 years to help Kern County growers respond to invasive pests that were threatening California agriculture. Teams were created to address a variety of pests, each requiring a different expertise.
“For spotted wing drosophila in cherries, we needed entomologists and a pomologist. For sharpshooters in grapes, mealybugs in pistachios and navel orangeworm in almonds we responded using teams of commodity advisors, IPM advisors, UC specialists and industry stakeholders, including commodity boards,” Haviland said. “We also formed a team to train farm labor contractors about pesticide drift so they could train fieldworkers on how to be safe at work.”
Haviland is also active in the Almond Pest Management Alliance Team, which received the 2019 California Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR) Integrated Pest Management Achievement Award. For more than a decade, the team conducted research on navel orangeworm, spider mites, leaffooted bug and ants that laid the groundwork for IPM adoption. For the past three years, they put these IPM practices on display using eight demonstration orchards across the San Joaquin Valley as part of a CDPR Pest Management Alliance Grant.
In teaching farm labor contractors, and in other capacities throughout his career, Haviland said his Spanish fluency has been an excellent tool.
“People who work in the agricultural industry are most likely to find Spanish-speaking field workers,” he said. “Instead of training supervisors in English, and having them translate materials, we are training workers in their own language so they can be as proficient as possible.”
Now that he is in the second half of his career, Haviland said he is serving as a mentor to new advisors, providing knowledge and support that were so important to him when he was first hired.
“I had some fabulous mentors who did everything in their power to give me a quick start to my career,” he said. “Now it's time to do my part.”
For the past two years, Haviland has worked with young entomology advisors by creating a pest management alliance project that secured funding for large-scale regional almond projects across the Central Valley. These types of projects provide funding and support that can launch new advisors into successful careers.
The research team, which rescued the potato chip industry from major losses, is the “Zebra Chip Research Team.” It has just won the Integrated Pest Management Team Award from the Entomological Foundation, a national organization that aims to educate young people about science through insects. The foundation recognized the team for its research and extension efforts that have had a dramatic effect on the potato industry.
John Trumble, a distinguished professor in the Department of Entomology at the University of California, Riverside, is a member of the Zebra Chip Research Team. He explained that by the time the team formed in 2008, a new pathogen had devastated the potato industry by spreading zebra chip disease, causing losses in the millions of dollars annually (see Q&A below).
“Indeed, many growers were on the verge of leaving the industry entirely,” he said. “When pesticide use in the fields increased dramatically, with unsatisfactory results, more economic losses followed.”
The Zebra Chip Research Team developed new techniques to identify the pathogen, allowing researchers to document local, regional, and national movements of the potato psyllid (Bactericera cockerelli) spreading zebra chip disease. The researchers determined both within-plant and within-field movements of the psyllid and the zebra chip pathogen, and developed special sampling programs that enabled potato growers to choose the level of risk they were willing to accept.
Besides Trumble, the following researchers are members of the Zebra Chip Research Team: Charlie Rush, an epidemiologist at Texas A&M University; Neil Gudmestad, a plant pathologist at North Dakota State University; Gerhard Bester of Frito Lay; Casey Butler of Syngenta Crop Protection; Joe Munyaneza, an entomologist, and Jim Crosslin, a plant pathologist, at USDA-Agricultural Research Service, Yakima, Wash.; Jon Goolsby, an entomologist at USDA-Agricultural Research Service, Edinburgh, Texas.; Don Henne, a horticultural scientist at Texas Agrilife Research, Weslaco; and Fekede Workneh, a plant pathologist at Texas Agrilife Research, Bushland.
Congratulations to them all for their work on zebra chip disease and the recognition they received from the Entomological Foundation!
Where in the country is the disease affecting potatoes?
Arizona, California, Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, Nevada, Oregon, New Mexico, Texas, and Washington State. Problems have now been reported throughout California, including Riverside County, Kern County and Ventura County. We find it in our experimental plantings in Orange County.
What kind of economic loss has zebra chip disease caused?
In the 2004-06 growing seasons, Texas growers estimated losses at over $25 million. Many growers during and since then have abandoned fields, with Texas reporting about a 20% reduction in planting. Guatemala, Honduras and New Zealand have reported over 80% of plants infested and losses of nearly all marketable size tubers. Dollar losses in California have not been estimated, but growers throughout the USA dramatically increased pesticide applications, which greatly increased production costs. Much of the Team's efforts were designed to determine how to economically control the pest. We did this by minimizing or eliminating use of the class one (highly toxic) pesticides, developing control strategies with low environmental impact and high economic return for the investment, and increasing use of beneficial insects.
Possibly, people could be divided into the following two groups: those who knowingly eat insects, and those who think they have never eaten them. Since I am still assailed by the odd nightmare in which I am bringing to my lips a well-cooked bug that suddenly springs to life, I decided to tackle my bug-food phobia by visiting entomologist Douglas Yanega of UC Riverside last week.
Yanega has eaten insects, even relished them. With no difficulty whatsoever he has ingested honey bees, termites, mealworms, crickets, grasshoppers, ants, June beetles, silkworms and even scorpions.
“These admittedly were not very tasty,” said Yanega, who is the senior museum scientist in the Entomology Research Museum, where he studies, identifies and catalogs insects. “In Thailand, however, I had queen weaver ants — a gourmet food there that tastes like either peanut butter or lemon, depending on which body part you’ve sunk your teeth into — and deep-fried mole crickets. Both were delicious!”
Eating insects is not unusual in Thailand, Yanega explained. Insects, a good source of highly digestible protein, are part of the diet in Korea, China and Mexico as well.
“You get more bang for the buck when you eat insects, where protein is concerned,” Yanega said. “True, the outer hardened shell is often not digestible, but the softer, internal tissues are. Of course, you want to avoid toxic insects. There are some that could kill you if you ate them.”
How does one know if an insect is toxic? In general, herbivorous insects tend to be more edible. Moreover, insects have evolved to alert other critters — and us! — that they are not suitable for consumption. Bright colors like red, orange or yellow juxtaposed with black on insect bodies are a sure warning from insects that you’d better stay away.
“Think of monarch butterflies, ladybird beetles, tiger moths. You never want to eat them,” Yanega said. “Some tiger moths will even make a noise to warn you to stay away. Other bugs will defensively ooze nasty secretions in your mouth, the moment you bite, to force you to spit them out and free them.”
Because few people experiment with eating insects, identifying those that are both edible and delicious can be a big challenge.
“You have, in the middle of the bell curve of insects, a whole lot that are edible but taste awful,” Yanega said. “And there are those at one end of the curve that are just toxic. But at the other end of this curve lie the prized ones: these are edible and tasty.”
In the United States, most people are culturally still averse to eating insects. If you travel to Mexico, however, you might eat stinkbugs, sometimes used to flavor food. Farther off, in Japan, you could enjoy wasp grubs and silkworm larvae. In the mainland parts of Southeast Asia, you can savor giant water bugs and mole crickets.
According to Yanega, one way to get introduced to an entomological diet is to first dry out insects, and then grind them up to a powder.
“You can use this powder as a supplement,” he said. “It’s the easiest way to go about eating insects as food. You can mix the powder into, say, wheat flour to get 'insect-enriched flour.'
If you’re cringing, rest assured that most of us already eat insects unknowingly. Much of food coloring uses insects. The waxy coloring that coats candies is oftentimes insect-based. And a lot of fresh produce has a built-in level of “insect contamination.”
“As long as you are not allergic to an edible insect, you’re safe eating it,” Yanega said. “If you can get past your phobia or stigma of putting bugs in your mouth, you should have no difficulty in adding insects to your diet.”
Which is what most of us would have to do if we found ourselves stranded on an island and famished.
“Should that happen, never mind the brightly colored bugs,” Yanega said. “Instead, go after the ones that are cryptically colored, the ones that look as though they are hiding from something. They would be a much better bet.”
A team of nine entomology, cancer and nutrition researchers, in work published in the June 25 edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that this new class of drug molecules stabilized the natural molecules and "effectively blocked neuropathic pain" - or pain caused by nerve damage. The research, conducted on rodents, is expected to lead to an orally active drug candidate for human clinical trials.
"This discovery offers a promising new approach to controlling chronic pain in diabetics," said lead author and project scientist Bora Inceoglu of the Bruce Hammock lab based in the Department of Entomology. "We were initially looking at anti-inflammatory compounds which regulate a key branch of an inflammatory pathway. These compounds are highly selective and inhibit a key enzyme called soluble epoxide hydrolase. Inhibition of this enzyme successfully blocks pain sensations."
"Our data indicate that this drug candidate is more effective on neuropathic pain caused by diabetes than any of the prescription drugs now on the market," said Hammock, a distinguished professor of entomology who holds a joint appointment with the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center.
The research is significant in that in the United States alone, diabetics total 25.8 million or 8.3 percent of the population, and millions more - estimated at 79 million - are pre-diabetic, according to the American Diabetes Association. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tallies the economic burden of diabetes at approximately $170 billion a year.
Professor Daniele Piomelli, director of drug discovery and development at UC Irvine and who holds the Louise Turner Arnold Chair in Neurosciences, said that the study holds promise. He was not involved with the UC Davis research.
"Current medicines do not control well chronic pain produced by damage to the nerves," said Piomelli, professor of anatomy, neurobiology, and biological chemistry. "The study by Hammock and collaborators identifies a new class of chemical compounds that could change this situation. These compounds act by boosting natural signals, produced by the body, which curb both inflammation and pain. Exploiting the body's own 'medicines' is a great approach to creating safer medicines."
Piomelli cautioned that the experiments "were conducted in animals and need therefore to be confirmed by clinical trials."
UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine anesthesiologist and pain specialist Alonso Guedes, also not involved in the study, said that the research shows that "stabilization of a class of bioactive lipid greatly reduces pain derived from nerve lesions. This novel and emerging knowledge may help fulfill a critical medical need for millions of animals and people afflicted by such pain modalities."
For the study, the UC Davis researchers used the Type I diabetes-induced pain model.
"Although Type II diabetes, associated with obesity, hypertension and metabolic disorders, is more prevalent in humans, to study the analgesic effects we selected Type I diabetes since pain manifests in an accelerated manner," said co-researcher and pharmacology doctoral candidate Karen Wagner. "In Type II diabetes patients, the occurrence of pain is delayed by many years of pre-diabetic or diabetic state, whereas our model affords a very rapid onset of pain."
Team member Fawaz Haj of the Departments of Nutrition and Internal Medicine, a leading nutrition and diabetes expert and a collaborator with the Hammock lab on diabetes, said that, "Intriguingly, in this study, acute treatments with soluble epoxide hydrolase inhibitors did not significantly affect the diabetic status of the animals, such as blood glucose levels and responses to insulin, indicating a selective effect on pain sensation. Neuropathic pain is a major co-morbidity of diabetes and an important debilitating factor that reduces the quality of life and this study accomplished a first in showing analgesic effects of soluble epoxide hydrolase inhibitors."
The researchers worked on a physiological pathway that was largely unknown until recently. When the enzyme, soluble epoxide hydrolase, is inhibited, "what happens is that the biological effects of a group of lipid metabolites, that are degraded by this enzyme, accumulate to effective levels," Hammock said.
"It turns out that a major function of these lipid metabolites is to selectively block pain sensation while sparing other types of sensations," Hammock said.
Inceoglu described neuropathic pain as "a debilitating condition and very difficult to treat with available painkillers or analgesics. Most analgesics are ineffective while those that reduce neuropathic pain often come with a variety of side effects that negatively affect the quality of life."
Nerve damage may be the result of trauma and chemotherapy agents or even diabetes itself. In diabetes, high levels of blood glucose damage the fine endings of sensory neurons that normally transmit pain-related information, the scientists explained. The aberrant signaling from the damaged neurons is interpreted as extreme sensitivity to touch and sometimes insensitivity to heat. "Even an innocuous touch, such as buttoning a shirt or the collar rubbing against the neck, or the vibration of being in a bumpy car ride can result in extreme pain," Inceoglu said.
"Almost half of advanced diabetic patients suffer from this painful condition which worsens as diabetes progresses," Inceoglu said.
Nerve and vascular damage can lead to gangrene and amputation. In advanced stages, the nerve damage leads to life-threatening heart and kidney diseases.
Physicians face a dilemma in selecting the right painkillers for the right conditions and with the least possible side effects, the UC Davis researchers said. Over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), for example, are completely ineffective for neuropathic conditions, Hammock said. Narcotics, like opium, can be addictive; withdrawal is difficult.
"Therefore, there is a great need to discover new approaches in combating pain," Hammock said. "New medications will effectively increase the number of choices for patients and physicians in treating intractable pain. Our study shows that the novel approach is effective and may not lead to the known side effects of narcotics or anti-depressants."
"It is still too early for these new compounds to reach the stores as analgesic drugs, since FDA approval takes a decade with very thorough evaluations," Inceoglu said. "However, once the feasibility of this approach is demonstrated, hopefully a major hurdle in moving toward clinical application is overcome."
The research, funded by the National Institutes of Health, supports earlier studies at UC Davis and later at Medical College of Wisconsin that showed the natural epoxy-fatty acids are analgesic molecules.
"Although very effective in blocking pain, unlike narcotics, these molecules do not affect coordination skills of animals," Inceoglu said.
The research team included Bora Inceoglu, Karen Wagner, Jun Yang, Nils Schebb, Sung Hee Hwang and Christophe Morisseau, all of the Department of Entomology; Bruce Hammock, Department of Entomology and UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center; Ahmed Bettaieb of the Department of Nutrition; and Fawaz Haj of the Departments of Nutrition and Internal Medicine.
"This is an interdisciplinary effort among neurobiologists, diabetes specialists, organic chemics and analytical chemists," said Hammock. "We could not have done this without sophisticated mass spectrometry equipment."
"The emerging mass spectrometric technique allowed us to analyze the tiny amounts of natural bioactive compounds, contributing to this pain discovery," said Yang.
Hammock directs the campuswide Superfund Research Program, the National Institutes of Health Biotechnology Training Program and the NIEHS Combined Analytical Laboratory. He is a Fellow of the Entomological Society of America, a member of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences, and the recipient of the UC Davis Faculty Research Lecture Award in 2001 and the Distinguished Teaching Award for Graduate and Professional Teaching in 2008.
Hammock's initial research involved regulating the development of insect larvae.
October 5, 2011
DAVIS — Integrated pest management (IPM) specialist Frank Zalom, professor and former vice chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and soon-to-be president of the 6000-member Entomological Society of America, is one of three Americans invited to speak at an international IPM workshop, Oct. 16-19, in Berlin, Germany.
Zalom, invited by the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection of Germany, will speak on “Stimulating Use of Professional IPM Consultants in Agriculture, Benefits for Farmers and Society,” on Monday, Oct. 17.
The event is sponsored by the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), which helps governments of the developed countries tackle the economic, social and governance challenges of a globalized economy. The OECD is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.
At the OECD workshop, to be held in the Julius Kuhn Institute, Federal Research Center for Cultivated Plants, invitees will develop recommendations related to the workshop themes, adoption and implementation of IPM in agriculture, contributing to the sustainable use of pesticides and to pesticide-risk reduction.
Wolfgang Zornback, chair of the OECD Working Group on Pesticides, German Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection, will welcome the group.
The speakers will include noted IPM specialists from Australia, Denmark, Canada, Germany, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, The Netherlands and the UK. About 100 participants were either nominated by their governments or invited by the OECD. Half of the participants will include government representatives working on pesticide regulation, and half of the participants will include representatives from international/regional organizations: European Commission, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization (EPPO), International Organization for Biological Control (IOBC), bio-pesticide industries, environmental and consumer organizations and academia.
Americans joining Zalom in Berlin will be Tom Green of the US/IPM Institute of North America in Madison, Wis., who will discuss “IPM in U.S. Schools: Challenges, Opportunities and Implications for IPM in Agriculture” and James VanKirk of the Southern Region IPM Center, North Carolina State University, who will address “IPM Pest Information Platform for Extension and Education.”
The OECD workshop will conclude with a visit to the German chancellery.
Zalom will begin a four-year commitment to the Entomological Society of America (ESA) this fall when he will be inducted as vice president-elect at the organization’s 59th annual meeting set Nov. 13-16 in Reno. He will subsequently move up to vice president and president and then serve a year fulfilling the duties of past president. The UC Davis entomologist will become president at the end of the 2013 annual meeting and then will serve as president at the 2014 meeting in Portland, Ore.
Zalom has been heavily involved in research and leadership in integrated pest management (IPM) activities at the state, national and international levels. He directed the UC Statewide IPM Program for 16 years (1986 -2001) and is currently experiment station co-chair of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU) National IPM Committee.
Zalom focuses his research on California specialty crops, including tree crops (almonds, olives, prunes, peaches), small fruits (grapes, strawberries, caneberries), and fruiting vegetables (tomatoes), as well as international IPM programs.
The IPM strategies and tactics Zalom has developed include monitoring procedures, thresholds, pest development and population models, biological controls and use of less toxic pesticides, which have become standard in practice and part of the UC IPM Guidelines for these crops.
In his three decades with the UC Davis Department of Entomology, Zalom has published almost 300 refereed journal articles and book chapters, and 340 technical and extension articles. The articles span a wide range of topics related to IPM, including invasive species management, biological control, insect population dynamics, pesticide runoff mitigation, impacts and management of newer, soft insecticides, development of economic thresholds and sampling methods, and determination of insect host feeding and oviposition preferences.
The Zalom lab has responded to six important pest invasions in the last decade, with research projects on glassy-winged sharpshooter, olive fruit fly, a new biotype of greenhouse whitefly, invasive saltcedar, light brown apple moth, and the spotted wing Drosophila.
Zalom is a fellow of ESA, American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the California Academy of Sciences.
Highly honored for his work, Zalom received the Entomological Foundation’s 2010 “Award for Excellence in IPM,” an award sponsored by Syngenta Crop Protection and given for “the most outstanding contributions to IPM.” In 2008 he was part of a team receiving an International IPM “Excellence Award” at the sixth International IPM Symposium. Also in 2008, Zalom was part of the seven-member UC Almond Pest Management Alliance IPM Team that received the Entomological Foundation’s "Award for Excellence in IPM.” The Pacific Branch of the ESA awarded Zalom its greatest honor, the C. W. Woodworth Award, in 2011.