Spiders usually aren’t something people like to see close-up, but inside Cornell University’s Mann Library, that’s exactly what you’ll experience at the Arachnophilia: A Passion for Spiders exhibit, on display until Jan. 24. The exhibit is in collaboration with Linda Rayor, Cornell University professor of Entomology, who has had her work displayed at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto and the Australian Museum in Sydney.
This is one in a series presenting news on technology and innovation, made possible with generous support from the Lemelson Foundation.
New Honor for Robert D. Reed
Oct 23, 2019
Let's congratulate Robert D. Reed, for recently being elected to become a Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society (FRES)! Previous fellows include scientists by the name of Charles Darwin and Alfred Russell Wallace!!
Preventing aberrant immune responses against the microbiota is essential for the health of the host. Microbiota-shed pathogen-associated molecular patterns translocate from the gut lumen into systemic circulation. Here, we examined the role of hemolymph (insect blood) filtration in regulating systemic responses to microbiota-derived peptidoglycan. Drosophila deficient for the transcription factor Klf15 (Klf15NN) are viable but lack nephrocytes—cells structurally and functionally homologous to the glomerular podocytes of the kidney. We found that Klf15NN flies were more resistant to infection than wild-type (WT) counterparts but exhibited a shortened lifespan. This was associated with constitutive Toll pathway activation triggered by excess peptidoglycan circulating in Klf15NN flies. In WT flies, peptidoglycan was removed from systemic circulation by nephrocytes through endocytosis and subsequent lysosomal degradation. Thus, renal filtration of microbiota-derived peptidoglycan maintains immune homeostasis in Drosophila, a function likely conserved in mammals and potentially relevant to the chronic immune activation seen in settings of impaired blood filtration.
19th European Carabidologists’ Meeting
Sep 25, 2019
Jim Liebherr joined a contingent of North Americans at the European Carabidologists’ Meeting held 16-20 September at Fiera di Primiero in the foothills of the Dolomites. Four days of talks were interrupted by an excursion to Panaveggio Natural Park, where the group posed before the Pale di San Martino. Presentations at the meeting included carabid ecology in natural and urban landscapes, conservation of declining populations of carabid beetles, and systematics and evolution of carabids. The meeting organizer, Dr. Roberto Pizzolotto, presented an informal talk on carabid beetles and climate change, with his presentation given at the 2300 m elevation photo site marking the highest talk given at any ECM since the meeting’s inception in 1969. Other North American attendees included Terry Erwin, Smithsonian Institution; Dave Kavanaugh, California Academy of Sciences; David Maddison, Oregon State University; Kip Will, UC Berkeley; Wendy Moore, U. of Arizona, John Spence, U. of Alberta, plus their students and postdocs. The North Americans comported themselves well, and are looking forward to the next meeting in two years.
The gut of adult Drosophila contains a pool of intestinal stem cells (ISCs) that regenerate damaged enterocytes. However, larvae lack ISCs and thus cannot undergo this continuous epithelial renewal. Houtz et al. (pp. 412–425) find larval Drosophila circumvent this lack of stem cells through controlled differentiation of adult midgut progenitor cells to mediate partial renewal following enteric bacterial damage. Enteric infection activates cytokine expression in enterocytes (red) that triggers the premature differentiation of adult midgut precursor cells into new, replacement enterocytes (green). A concurrent delay in larval development allows the pool of progenitors to be reconstituted by cells that were not diverted for repair. Cover art by Philip Houtz.
Dale Ila Riggs knew the pests were coming for her berries. It was summer 2012, and Riggs watched as the invasive spotted wing Drosophila, a type of fruit fly, descended on The Berry Patch, her 230-acre farm in eastern New York near the Massachusetts border.
The laboratory of Dr. Ann Hajek in the Department of Entomology studies insect pathogenic fungi and nematodes as biological control agents for notorious invasive insect species such as the Asian longhorned beetle, gypsy moth, brown marmorated stink bug, and spotted lanternfly.
Laboratory assistants will care for insect colonies, collect live insects from rearing cages and the field, dissect insects to look for pathogens, and use sterile technique to culture organisms.
The successful candidate(s) will pay strong attention to detail and follow instructions, but also may assist in problem-solving and developing new methods. Must have excellent communication skills and work well with others. Must be willing to work indoors and outdoors, and infrequently lift heavy objects. Must be physically able to use microscopes. Preference given to students who have held a Driver’s License for 3 years prior to employment. (Personal vehicle NOT required.)
Assistants are scheduled for 6-10 hours per week. This position requires a commitment to sometimes work independently for on Saturdays and/or Sundays, depending on the experiments that are ongoing. To apply, send a cover letter and resume to both Dr. Eric Clifton (email@example.com) and David Harris (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Elba, New York onion growers, Matt Mortellaro, Guy Smith, Chuck Barie, Emmaline Long, and Mark and Max Torrey recently received an Excellence in Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Award from the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program (NYSIPM).
Elson Shields, a Cornell entomology professor, received an Excellence in Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Award from the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program (NYSIPM) at Cornell University’s Aurora Farm Field Day on the Musgrave Research Farm.
The voltage-sensitive sodium channel (VSSC) is essential for the generation and propagation of action potentials. The VSSC can change sodium kinetics by producing different splice variants (optional and mutually exclusive exons). The VSSC is the target site of pyrethroid insecticides as well as DDT and oxadiazines, which are used for control of crop pests and vectors of human diseases. Unfortunately, knockdown resistance (kdr) mutations in Vssc confer resistance to these insecticides. Recently, Silva and Scott 2019 investigated the conservation of VSSC by three approaches: (1) across insect Orders, (2) codon constraints of kdr mutations between populations of Aedes aegypti and (3) within a population of Drosophila melanogaster. Overall, VSSC is highly conserved across insects and within a population of an insect but important differences do exist.
House flies have evolved resistance to most insecticides, and as insecticide use continues over seasons it is expected that levels of resistance will rise. Freeman et al. recently investigated (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048357519301282?via%3Dihub) flies collected from livestock facilities in five states to check levels of resistance against three commonly used insecticides. A population collected from Kansas had previously unseen high levels of resistance to permethrin, a pyrethroid insecticide, that could mean this type of insecticide will be of limited use for house fly control in the United States in the near future.
Control of sour rot in grapes is commonly achieved using insecticide to control D. melanogaster. 2018 was one of the worst years for sour rot in grapes in New York in decades. Sun et al. report that the outbreak of sour rot at one NY vineyard was associated with an inability to control D. melanogaster due to the evolution of resistance. https://doi.org/10.1093/jee/toz039
Improving Pollinator Health: What We Know and What YOU Can Do
Jun 5, 2019
Reunion lecture by Scott McArt (Dept. of Entomology) Friday, June 7, 9:30 am Stern Seminar Room (Mann Library Room 160) (Followed by an exhibit reception in the Mann Gallery and, at 11:15 a.m., a tour of pollinator-friendly plants in the Cornell Botanic Gardens)
Recent research showing declining pollinator populations throughout the world is lending urgency to the topic of pollinator health. A multi-media program invites the Cornell community to a hands-on exploration of this issue. Dr. Scott McArt (Cornell Dept. of Entomology) will present a lecture highlighting what scientists currently know about the global state of pollinator health, how they’ve teamed up with artists to broaden awareness, and what everyone can do to support thriving pollinator populations in our backyards and neighborhoods. Following the lecture, a reception in the Mann Gallery will celebrate Mann’s newest exhibit “PolliNation: Artists Crossing Borders with Scientists to Explore the Value of Pollinator Health.” At 11:15 a.m., a garden tour with Krissy Boys and Robert Wesley of the Cornell Botanic Gardens and Nikki Cerra of the Cornell Institute for Healthy Futures will introduce participants to Cornell’s new “Botanic Buzzline” pollinator walkway, with a close-up introduction to plants most effective for attracting, feeding and sustaining healthy pollinator communities. (Garden tour will begin at the Dallas Garden Walkway behind Mann Library). In partnership with the Department of Entomology, Mann Library is also hosting an open house and making activity in the mannUfactory makerspace on Saturday June 8, 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. We will provide materials and instruction for making mason bee hotels that help create attractive bee habitat in your home garden. All ages welcome!
May 30, 2019
Geneva Entomology honored Ashley Leach with the 2018-2019 Chapman Graduate Student Fellowship Award at an April 30th award presentation & seminar.
Two-spotted spider mites (Tetranychus urticae) are important pests of strawberry worldwide. Finding them in the field can be challenging, but regular monitoring for their presence is essential for IPM practices. This video demonstrates how to sample for and identify two-spotted spider mites, and offers some guidance on using thresholds to apply chemical and biological controls. This video was produced by Samantha Willden, an EOA student at Cornell AgriTech in Geneva, NY
Congratulations to all of our Undergraduate Honor’s Research Students that presented their research earlier this week at Jugatae as well! A special congratulations to Annika Salzberg for being awarded the Entomology Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Assistant of 2018-2019!
Top TAs honored for excellence by Cornell CALS faculty, leadership
May 10, 2019
Two entomology graduate students, Zoe Getman-Pickering and Natalie Bray, received an award for being an Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant. They were provided a congratulatory lunch, a certificate and a inscribed golden apple.
The invasive planthopper from China, spotted lanternfly, was first found in southeastern Pennsylvania in 2014 and has been spreading ever since; although it is not presently considered to be established in New York, it has been found in numerous counties. This invasive has caused serious damage in vineyards and is known to also damage apple crops in Korea so there is great concern about the impact of this invasive. At least in part, invasive species are often thought to be able to increase to large numbers due to lack of natural enemies in the invaded habitats. Clifton et al. have reported on the occurrence of an epizootic (an epidemic in non-human animals) caused by two native insect pathogenic fungi, that caused a significant decline in an abundant spotted lanternfly population in Pennsylvania.
Nature Abhors a Paywall
Apr 29, 2019
Cornell Life Scientists Reflect on Open Science and the Historical Record Kathie Hodge (Plant Pathology), Tom Seeley (Neurobiology & Behavior) and Karen Penders St. Clair (Horticulture)
Across the sciences, primary historical materials can be essential to pioneering work. Yet rapidly spiraling fees charged by private companies to access information are raising ever-higher barriers to the advancement of knowledge. In a special program presented by Mann Library and the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL), three Cornell scientists--neurobiologist Tom Seeley, mycologist Kathie Hodge, and science historian Karen Penders St. Clair--will highlight the role that the historical scientific record has played in their own research. Join us for a discussion of this important perspective in the contemporary life sciences and a look at current open access efforts like BHL to keep science open for all in a race against the paywall. Wednesday, May 1 4:00 – 5:30 p.m. Mann Room 160 With reception in the Mann Gallery at 5:30 p.m.
Apr 29, 2019
Artist & Scientist crossing borders to explore the value of pollinator health
This exhibit is a collaboration between Swansea College of Arts (SCA) Art/Science Group, Cornell Entomology Department, and Mann Library.
Congratulations!! to Emma Mullen for receiving the 2018 eCornell Trailblazer Award!! In early 2016, the Department of Entomology and eCornell partnered to develop an online Master Beekeeper Certification course. Emma was charged with the development and subsequent instruction of this course. Her efforts have resulted in an amazing program which beekeepers from all over the world have been certified. The course is in such high demand, that three new instructors have been added to accommodate all of the enthusiastic beekeepers who are eager to become certified. Get the inside buzz at:
Cytochrome P450 monooxygenases (CYPs) carry out the detoxification of insecticides, and overexpression of one or more CYPs is a common mechanism of insecticide resistance in mosquitoes. Smith et al. investigated the molecular basis for CYP-mediated resistance in A. aegypti and found that overexpression of the CYPs responsible for resistance was due to a trans-regulatory factor.
Control of sour rot in grapes is commonly achieved using insecticide to control D. melanogaster. 2018 was one of the worst years for sour rot in grapes in New York in decades. Sun et al. report that the outbreak of sour rot at one NY vineyard was associated with an inability to control D. melanogaster due to the evolution of resistance.
The introduction of Bt eggplant reduced the need for harmful pesticides to be sprayed on commercial fields in Bangladesh. Mohammed Shajahan, left, works in a field with a day laborer at his farm in Bangladesh. Photo by Cornell Alliance for Science.
Nov 29, 2018
Ann Hajek became a Fellow of the Entomological Society of America at the 2018 ESA meeting. This is a competitive award; 9 were awarded this year.
Elson Shields Awarded NYS Excellence
Nov 29, 2018
Elson Shields was awarded the NYS Excellence in IPM Award from the NYS IPM Program (a competitive award).
Mosquito-to-mosquito infections keep dengue circulating
By Krishna Ramanujan |
October 31, 2018
While mosquitoes acquire dengue viruses from people when they feed on blood, the insects can also infect each other, a recent study finds.
Under normal conditions, when mosquito and host populations are robust, dengue is transmitted in a cycle from mosquitoes to human hosts and back to new mosquitoes, which keeps the virus in circulation.
But the study – published Aug. 31 in the journal Public Library of Science Neglected Tropical Diseases – reveals mother Aedes aegypti mosquitoes transmit dengue viruses to their offspring and, for the first time, finds evidence of male mosquitoes infecting females when they mate.
The research answers a big question among disease ecologists: how the virus is maintained during periods when mosquitoes become less active or when populations drop – such as in dry and cold spells – and when hosts are less susceptible.
“The study highlights how much we still need to know about the biology of these viruses and their interactions with the mosquitoes,” said Laura Harrington, professor of entomology at Cornell. Harrington is a co-lead author of the paper along with Irma Sanchez-Vargas, a research scientist at Colorado State University.
Grant explores using seminal fluid proteins to control mosquitoes
Now that researchers have proven these modes of transmission in the lab, next steps will be to test if they similarly occur in the field.
The research opens the door for potential new virus control methods that focus more on male mosquitoes, which tend to be ignored because they don’t take blood meals. “It indicates to me that males could actually be directly involved in transmission in the virus cycle,” Harrington said. “If we could understand in more detail what’s happening in the field, we might be able to target the populations when they are very low and minimize carry-overs of the virus from one epidemic to the next.”
The results have implications for other disease-causing viruses where mosquitoes are vectors, including yellow fever, Zika and chikungunya. These viruses tend to infect all tissues in the mosquito’s body before they reach the salivary glands, Harrington said. More research is needed to identify the exact mechanisms that allow transmission from one mosquito to another, but possibilities include eggs being infected when females fertilize them, and through seminal fluids during mating when males infect females, Harrington said.
Many other researchers have tested mosquitoes for transmissions between mothers and offspring and from males to females after mating, but those studies tested infections after a single blood meal. The meal helps the female develop a clutch of eggs.
“When they take one blood meal there is often not enough time for the virus to actually escape and make it into the ovarian tissue,” Harrington said. The current study re-created natural conditions with mosquitoes taking multiple blood meals, which led to higher infection rates between mosquitoes. Males acquire the virus in the egg and pass it on to females when they mate as adults.
The researchers began with a large number of wild-caught mosquitoes and conducted blind experiments, waiting to determine whether mosquitoes were infected. They separated females and gave them an infectious blood meal and a second noninfectious meal. They collected the second batch of eggs from females, surface sterilized the eggs, hatched and reared offspring to adulthood, and tested them for virus infections. From a subset of infected progeny, they reared a second set of progeny, then mated infected males from that second generation to uninfected females. They then went back and tested the male and the females he mated with for infection.
The paper’s senior co-author is virologist Ken Olson at Colorado State. Other co-authors include Jeffrey Doty at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and William Black at Colorado State.
The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health, Cornell Affinito Stewart Sabbatical Grant, and the Regents of the University of California through the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health and Grand Challenges in Global Health Initiative.
Forensic Investigation Research Station in Grand Junction, CO
Oct 29, 2018
Picture of Current crew at the Forensic Investigation Research Station in Grand Junction, CO., affiliated with Colorado Mesa University. Director Dr. Melissa Connor is in the lower right corner. This is the only facility in the western US devoted to the study of human decomposition under semi-arid conditions, a common environment in the western US. Land has been recently donated to open a second facility at 9,300 ft to complement the research at FIRS located at 4,600 ft elevation. The majority of the research is focused on time-of-death estimates to assist law enforcement in the mountain west. Elson Shields left of picture.
There's a teeming world of organisms out there that can help us control pests, weeds and plant pathogens. Plan on coming to the book talk by Cornell Department of Entomology's Prof. Hajek this Thursday, 11/1/2018 @ 4PM to learn more about biological control.
Check out this article Todd Ugine wrote that was published in the Environmental Entomology. Todd also took the picture on the cover. Article on: "An Assessment of the Physiological Costs of Autogenous Defenses in Native and Introduced Lady Beetles"
Check out this article on Corrie Moreau, called "Meeting the Woman Making Ants the Next Big Thing in Biology" in the National Geographic.
The Seed System Initiative, implemented by Cornell’s Delivering Genetic Gain in Wheat project in 2017-18, benefits wheat farmers in Nepal.
Leticia Smith receives the 2018 American Committee of Medical Entomology Young Investigator Award
Jul 18, 2018
Congratulations to Leticia Smith who received the 2018 American Committee of Medical Entomology Young Investigator Award - Graduate Student Travel Award. This award is in support of her attendance at the Annual Meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in New Orleans this Fall. The title of her presentation is “The relative fitness cost of two pyrethroid resistance mechanisms, CYP-mediated detoxification and kdr, in Aedes aegypti”.
Channel 12 news segment on the NYS Beekeeper Tech Team and Cornell honey bee research.Emma Mullen was interviewed for the film and Connor Hinsley makes several appearances as well! Bob Finch is the beekeeper, who has been a part of our program for 3 years.
Check out this paper published called “Comparative transcriptomics reveals CrebA as a novel regulator of infection tolerance in D. melanogaster” By Entomology’s Katia Troha, Joo Hyun Im, Jonathan Revah, Brian Lazzaro, and Nicolas Buchon.
Congratulations 2018 Entomology Graduates!
Jun 1, 2018
Congratulations 2018 Entomology Graduates!
Jun 1, 2018
Congratulations on your retirement, Charles Linn!!
Harrington Lab end of semester celebration at the Cornell Dairy Bar 05/17/2018!
May 17, 2018
Harrington Lab end of semester celebration at the Cornell Dairy Bar 05/17/2018!
Elson Shields, Tony Testa, Laura McDermott, Lindsey Elizabeth Pashow and Amy Ivy were the winners of the 2018 NACAA communication Award. They won with their feature article from last summers’ NY Fruit Quarterly – Managing strawberry root problems for improved profitability and sustainability on NYS berry farms: Using entomopathogenic nematodes to control strawberry root weevil complex - and it’s now a National Finalist
May 8, 2018
The last Jugatae seminar of the year was for our Undergraduate research presentations hosted by John Sanderson, Director of Undergraduate Studies. We heard seven great talks starting with Nana Yaa Britwum (PI Sunny Power), Ann Dunn (PI Jason Dombroskie), Kristianna Lea (PI Cole Gilbert), Danielle Rutkowski (PI Katja Poveda), Colin Sears, Laura Telfer and Alicia Williams (PI Jeff Scott).
Professor John Losey also presented an award to Entomology sophomore, Jacob Gorneau, for Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Assistant of the year.
Congratulations to all our presenters, graduating seniors and outstanding students.
Landscapes that surround agricultural lands strongly influence the dynamics of beneficial insects as well as insect pests on farms, which in turn affect crop yields.
Such were the findings of a Cornell study of New York farmlands, published April 4 in the journal Ecological Applications.
Many previous studies on how landscapes surrounding farms affect insect pests and crops have only considered one pest at a time. This study examined the effects of three cabbage pests – aphids, flea beetles and leaf-feeding caterpillars – wasps that feed on caterpillars, and crop yields. It also looked at three different types of landscapes that surround farms: agricultural lands, meadows and semi-natural areas (including shrublands, types of forests and woody wetlands).
“By considering multiple insect pests, [our study design] represented a more realistic situation for what farmers experience, we were able to disentangle some of these complexities,” said Ricardo Perez-Alvarez, the paper’s first author and a graduate student in the lab of Katja Poveda, professor of entomology and the paper’s senior author.
In the study, the researchers set up 22 experimental cabbage plots on farms across the Finger Lakes region of New York from June to September in 2014 and 2015. The details and management of each plot were the same, with no pesticides or insecticides used. Throughout the growing season, the researchers measured plant damage by each pest, density and abundance of parasitoid wasps, and they recorded crop yields at the end of each season.
The researchers expected that landscapes with a higher proportion of cropland and lower habitat diversity would lead to more specialist pests and a reduction in crop yields, according to the paper. Instead, they found that yields and the number of pests were best explained by the presence of non-crop habitats, such as meadows, in the landscape.
A cabbage looper, a pest of cabbage plants. Photo by Ricardo Perez-Alvarez.
Specifically, when the proportion of meadows surrounding farms was high, the amount of infestation from cabbage leaf-eating caterpillars was lower, likely because of increased parasitism from wasps. On the other hand, these same plots experienced more infestation from flea beetles and aphids. The findings suggest that while some beneficial insects increased as a result of the non-crop habitats, so did the number of certain pests.
By considering the collective effect of multiple pest species on crop yields, management schemes need to consider joint effects of pest species to be effective, Perez-Alvarez said. Still, more detailed study is needed to better understand these dynamics. “There were some landscapes where the presence of meadows can have an overall positive effect from crop production, but in other areas, meadows can have a negative effect,” he said, perhaps due to the characteristics of the insect fauna that live in those areas.
“There is not a universal solution,” he added.
Brian Nault, professor of entomology, is a co-author of the study.
The study was supported by U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture via the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station.
Check out this article by Philip Houtz, Alessandro Bonfini, Xi Liu, Jonathan Revah, and Nicolas Buchon on a study in which Philip determined the genetic network that controls a stem cell activating signal in damaged midgut epithelium of fruit flies.
Check out the 2nd edition of “Natural Enemies” recently published, written by Ann Hajek.
Ashley Leach was the winner of the PhD Student Oral Competition at the 89th Entomological Society of America’s Eastern Branch meeting in Annapolis, MD
Apr 10, 2018
Ashley Leach was the winner of the PhD Student Oral Competition at the 89thEntomological Society of America’s Eastern Branch meeting in Annapolis, MD last week. The title of her presentation was, “Evaluating effects of nitrogen fertilizer and insecticide use in managing onion thrips (Thrips tabaci) in onion.” Stephen Reiners (Horticulture Section, SIPS) and Brian Nault were co-authors.
Ashley Leach also was the winner of the Student Poster Competition at the 9thInternational IPM Symposium in Baltimore, MD last week. The title of her poster was, “Successful adoption of action threshold-based insecticide programs for thrips management in onion.” Christy Hoepting (Cornell Cooperative Extension) and Brian Nault were co-authors.
Check out this article in the Cornell Chronicle on our spiders for the museum exhibit: Dr. Linda Rayor and five undergraduates, Jake Gorneau, Leeah Richardson, Joe Gulian, Arabelle Orsicky, and Kristianna Lea, spent five months preparing North American spiders for a major international traveling exhibit on Spiders. Together, they helped prepare over 300 spiders in life-like positions for the show. Australia Museum's 'Spiders: Alive and Deadly' will be opening at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Canada on 16 June 2018, and then touring around the US and Canada for 5 years.
As the Cornell Institute of Host-Microbe Interactions and Disease(CIHMID) wraps up its first year, the launch of its Undergraduate Research Experience (URE) proved to be a highlight, say institute leaders.
CIHMID serves as a hub for the spokes of host-microbe biology and disease across Cornell and includes researchers in departments in the colleges of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Arts and Sciences, Veterinary Medicine, Engineering and Human Ecology. CIHMID provides an organizing body for researchers dispersed across colleges to collaborate, communicate and establish a visible presence for Cornell in research areas related to host-microbe interactions.
The URE program provides a mechanism for students to work in CIHMID-associated labs. The students participate in monthly trainings and professional development activities during the academic year, including learning about the scientific method, important research practices, how to read a scientific paper, and how to apply for grants and graduate school. Seventeen undergraduates were chosen for the 2017-18 cohort. The hope is that students will share their experiences and develop connections with each other.
Support is also available for 10 URE students to continue lab work through the summer. Research assistantships during the academic year count for credit, while the summer position includes a stipend.
New host-microbe institute connects campus researchers
“Having good research experiences are critical for encouraging students to stay in academic research or to pick careers in STEM fields,” said Tory Hendry, an assistant professor in microbiology and one of the directors of the URE, along with Teresa Pawlowska, associate professor of plant pathology and plant-microbe biology. “This gives them experience to see the full progression of a research project,” from how to develop a question, implement it and analyze results, Hendry said.
Hendry and Pawlowska have also applied for a National Science Foundation grant to expand the URE program.
Along with the URE, CIHMID is accepting applications for up to three postdoctoral research fellows to be granted three-year appointments in a CIHMID-affiliated lab. Applications are due Feb 26. The institute is also providing promotional support for hiring two faculty positions that would fall under the CIHMID umbrella; one for a specialist in vector biology and vector-borne disease through the Department of Entomology, and another for a plant-microbe biologist in the School of Integrative Plant Science.
Last July, the institute held its inaugural summer symposium and regularly invited seminar speakers over the course of the fall semester.
“The first year was about getting things organized and putting structures and mechanisms in place,” said Brian Lazzaro, CIHMID director and Liberty Hyde Bailey professor in the Departments of Entomology and Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. “Now that is done, and we are looking to get funding for the future to keep programs running and to expand them.”
Jo Handelsman, director of the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery and former associate director for science in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy under President Obama, will speak on March 15 at a seminar co-sponsored by CIHMID and Biology without Borders.
CIHMID is currently accepting nominations as it determines its line of speakers for the 2018-19 academic year.
Katja Poveda has been promoted to Associate Professor.
Feb 8, 2018
Katja Poveda has been promoted to Associate Professor. Please be sure to congratulate Katja on this wonderful achievement!
It can be hard to see how important honeybees are to daily life. Just by looking at fully grown oranges, apples and almonds, the honeybee wouldn’t necessarily get marquee credit for their growth.
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But, bees pollinate around 70 percent of the world’s crops, according to Cornell University, and without them, there’s no easy way to pollinate the fresh foods that need to be grown and harvested.
Beekeeper Chuck Kutik with Ginger Zee on his farm in Manning, South Carolina.
The vast farming operations around the country keep bees in high demand almost year-round and it’s up to commercial bee keepers to make sure farmers have their pollinators.
One of those beekeepers, Chuck Kutik, rents his bees out across the country, throughout the year. He said there's one crop that demands more bees than any other -– almonds. In the winter, Kutik, and commercial beekeepers throughout the country, send the majority of the nation's commercial bees to pollinate almonds blossoms.
Bees pollinate around 70 percent of the world's crops and without them there's no easy way to pollinate the food we need to harvest.more +
Kutik loads his bees on flatbed trucks that hold 112 palates of beehives and sends them on a multi-day, cross-country journey.
Before the bees arrive at the almond farms in California, the trees are bare, but after several weeks, they begin to blossom in bright white flowers.more +
Truck drivers have to continue moving throughout the day, only stopping at night, in order to maintain cool temperatures for the bees. If it’s too warm they will be tempted to fly out of their hives.
The bees will spend several weeks pollinating the bright white almond blooms. When they are done, they will be taken to the next farm, to a new crop on the east coast. Watch Full Episodes of “Food Forecast”Almond farmer and beekeeper Ryan Cosyns tells us that the price of pollination rental for almonds has nearly doubled since 2005, which is directly related to the increased acreage devoted to almonds.
A single hive from Kutik’s farm rented for as much as $200 in 2017, to a California almond farmer.
Beekeeper Chuck Kutik loads his bees on flatbed trucks and sends them on a multi-day cross country journey to reach California almond farms.more +
But as the demand for bees has gone up, keeping honeybees healthy has also become more and more of a challenge.
According to the USDA, Between 2015 and 2016 the nation's beekeepers lost 44 percent of their colonies.
"The consensus in the scientific community now is that it's not any single factor that is driving losses of bees," said Scott McArt, an associate professor in the Department of Entymology at Cornell University. "It's multiple factors."
Beekeepers make new hives by taking one that is thriving and splitting it into two.
He said those factors can include pesticides, insecticides, loss of habitat and climate change.
However, as honeybees are dying the overall population of bees has gone up.
"This is something that a lot of people don’t necessarily understand," said Emma Mullen, an associate in the Department of Entymology at Cornell University, "because if you do track the number of colonies that are in New York or the U.S., they do tend to increase. So what they’ll do is they’ll split their colonies and in that way they can continue to replace the colonies that were lost and grow their operation."
In the springtime, beekeepers can take a hive that is thriving and split them, creating two from one. Kutik predicted he would create 6,000 new hives in the spring. Treasure hunt: Ginger Zee searches for rare, expensive Italian white trufflesWhen the bees return home to Kutik’s farm, there is still more work to be done; that's when honey production starts. But farmers in the U.S. cannot produce enough honey to meet the total demand across the country.
“We only produce, I don't know what it is, 120 million or 140 million pounds of honey in the U.S.," Kutik said. "I think the consumption is 300 [million pounds]. The consumption is way more than we can produce."
David Fazekas/ABC News
At Chuck Kutik's farm in New York, his bees stay home in the summer to make honey.
With so much work to be done by American beekeepers and their bees, can the industry keep up with demand?
In this episode of “Food Forecast,” Ginger Zee tags along the route of the bees to the almonds groves of California and talks to the beekeepers along the way. For more stories from ABC News' "Food Forecast" series, download the ABC News App on iOS or Android.
ABC News' TV show "Food Forecast" created a fantastic episode on beekeeping! It features one of New York's own commercial beekeepers, Chuck Kutik. The episode also includes interviews with Emma Mullen and Dr. Scott McArt from Cornell University, who discuss beekeeping in NYS and what viewers can do to help pollinators. Watch the episode here.
We’ve heard a lot about honeybees and how important they are as pollinators. But bumblebees pollinate wildflowers and crops, too, and some kinds of bumblebees are in trouble.
Scott McArt is an assistant professor of pollinator health at Cornell University. He says that bumblebees can be extremely important pollinators for certain crops.
“So, for example, the vast majority of tomatoes that you will buy at the grocery store are pollinated exclusively by bumblebees,” he says.
In a new study, McArt found that fungicides could be playing a role in the declines of four species of bumblebees. He and his team looked at two dozen environmental factors to understand why these species are declining.
“We have this excellent data set; this data set includes 10,000 individual bumblebee samples. And believe it or not, someone has actually gone through all of these 10,000 bees and pulled out their guts, and looked for the prevalence of a particular pathogen, this Nosema pathogen. It’s a microsporidian, it’s related to a fungus.”
They used the data set to look for landscape predictors.
“So the things that were around the different sites that these bumblebees were actually collected, and looked at the predictors of what was associated with this particular pathogen,” he says.
McArt says most fungicides are relatively non-toxic to bees, but there can be problems for bees when fungicides interact with insecticides. He explains that some pesticides can have synergistic interactions which can lead to up to a thousand-fold increase in toxicity.
“So if you look in the pollen and look in the nectar that the bees are bringing back to the colonies, we’re finding that there’s a lot of pesticides that are coming back,” he says.
McArt says there’s a still a lot to learn about the problem before they can figure out how to stop it.
“In the combination of those fungicides and insecticides, we don’t know a lot about how these synergisms are actually occurring. So how often these synergisms are occurring and what types of toxicities result from these synergisms. This is sort of a new area of research that pollinator health is going into right now,” he says. You can listen to our interview with Scott McArt above.
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RELATED CONTENT How you could be killing bees when you're trying to help them
By TRACY SAMILTON• AUG 16, 2016
MELISSA COOPER SARGENT / ECOLOGY CENTER
Many gardeners know that bees are in trouble, and they want to help. Sales of so-called "bee-friendly" flowering plants are on the rise.
There's just one problem, says Melissa Cooper Sargent of the Ecology Center, and it's a big one.
Sargent says it's common practice for nurseries around the country to treat the seeds of the plants, or the plants themselves, with pesticides called neonicotinoids, that are highly toxic to bees.
Check out this photo and a link to a video from a testimony Scott McArt gave to the NYS Assembly last month regarding pollinator declines, the value of bees to NYS, and Cornell’s role in providing research and extension to beekeepers, growers and the public. You can even watch video of the testimony.
Congratulations to Ping Wang on his promotion to Full Professor.
Jan 2, 2018
Congratulations to Ping Wang on his promotion to Full Professor.