Posts Tagged: UC Davis Department of Entomology
Bugs will rule at the 99th annual UC Davis Picnic Day this Saturday, April 20.
The UC Davis Department of Entomology is planning lots of "bug" activities as part of the campuswide celebration.
Forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey, coordinator of the department’s Picnic Day activities, says there will be cockroach races, termite trails, ant colonies, Maggot Art, face-painting, fly-tying, honey tasting, T-shirt sales, and much, much more at Briggs Hall.
Briggs is located off Kleiber Hall drive, near the campus police and fire stations, while the Bohart Museum is in Room 1124 Academic Surge on Crocker Lane.
The Bohart Museum, home of nearly eight million insect specimens, will feature wasp nests in its new display case. Displayed will be nests once occupied by European paper wasps, yellow jackets, carpenter bees and bumble bees. The Bohart also will include a live “petting zoo” where visitors can hold Madagascar hissing cockroaches, a rose-haired tarantula, and walking sticks. Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology, directs the Bohart Museum.
At Briggs, you can also expect to see forensic, medical, aquatic, apiculture, and forest entomology displays, as well as a honey of a honey tasting. In the courtyard, Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen will share six varieties of honey: manzanita, lima bean, pomegranate, almond blossom, orange blossom, and Northern desert shrub Nevada), a reddish honey. In Room 122, staff research associate/beekeeper Billy Synk of the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility will provide a bee observation hive.
One of the most popular activities at Briggs is Maggot Art, a term trademarked by forensic entomologist Rebecca O’Flaherty, a former doctoral candidate in entomology at UC Davis. This involves dipping a maggot in non-toxic, water-based paint. “Artists” pick up a maggot with special forceps, dip it in the paint and then let it crawl on white paper. O’Flaherty launched Maggot Art in 2001 at the University of Hawaii as a community outreach project when she was teaching entomology to youths.
The UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program (UC IPM) will set up its traditional display in front of Briggs Hall where visitors can learn about managing pests in their homes and garden. In addition, UC IPM will give away live lady beetles (aka ladybugs) to children.
Plans at Briggs Hall also call for a “Bug Doctor” to answer insect-related questions. The doctor is in! Last year’s “Bug Doctors” included Michael Parrella, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology.
So, bugs will rule!
Briggs Hall is a popular place to be on UC Davis Picnic Day. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Visitors will flock to the Bohart Museum of Entomology. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Principal editor/entomologist Steve Dreistadt of UC IPM explains insects to visitors. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Bradley White, assistant professor at UC Riverside, will speak on “Ecological Genomics of Malaria Mosquitoes” at the UC Davis Department of Entomology seminar from 12:05 to 1 p.m. in Room 1022 of the Life Sciences Building, corner of Hutchison and Kleiber Hall drives.
Professor Gregory Lanzaro of the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine will introduce White. Plans call for video-recording the seminar for later posting on UCTV.
"Anopheles gambiae is the most important malaria vector in the world,” White says in is abstract. “Remarkable adaptive flexibility has enabled this mosquito to track humans across the diverse ecoclimates of sub-Saharan Africa where it thrives in both highly mesic and xeric conditions. These rapid, recent ecological adaptations have driven incipient speciation into two ecotypes, which differentially exploit permanent and temporary larval habitats. Within each nascent species, abundant chromosomal inversion polymorphisms facilitate adaptation to local conditions along latitudinal environmental gradients."
“To elucidate the genetic basis of ecological adaptation in Anopheles gambiae, we performed a series of genome-wide divergence scans, which revealed candidate regions subject to recent natural selection. Dissection of one of these genomic regions established a link between naturally occurring allelic variation and an adaptive phenotype. In the context of evolutionary genomics, these studies shed light on the maintenance of inversion polymorphisms and also provide insight into the genomic architecture of reproductive isolation. From a public health standpoint, this work demonstrates how divergent ecological selection can impact the vectorial capacity of Anopheles gambiae -- with consequences for malaria epidemiology and control.”
White began working on mosquitoes as an undergraduate at Oberlin College in Ohio. “At the time, West Nile virus (WNV) was sweeping through the midwest and during the summers I participated in a project to identify the Culex vectors of WNV and to determine environmental factors affecting their abundance,” he said. “After leaving Oberlin, I spent the next seven years in Nora Besansky's lab at Notre Dame where I focused on the population genomics of the African malaria mosquito Anopheles gambiae."
White, who joined the UC Riverside Department of Entomology faculty in 2011, focuses his research on quantitative and functional genomics of Anopheline malaria vectors.
More information? Check out his website at http://www.mosquitogenomics.org.
The malaria mosquito, Anopheles gambiae. (Photo by Anthony Cornel)
Claudio Gratton, associate professor in the Department of Entomology, University of Wisconsin, will speak on “Sustainable Bioenergy Landscapes: Can We Balance Our Need for Production and Biodiversity?” at a UC Davis Department of Entomology seminar on Wednesday, April 10.
His seminar will take place from 12:05 to 1 p.m. in Room 1022 of the Life Sciences Addition, corner of Hutchison and Kleiber Hall drives. Katharina Ullmann of the Neal Williams lab is the host. The seminar is scheduled to be recorded for later viewing on UCTV.
“Increasing demands for food, and now fuel, have put pressure on our agricultural lands,” Gratton says. “Land use and land cover are continuing to change the way we manage our lands with significant biological and ecosystem-level consequences.”
“The ‘simplification’ of the agricultural landscape, that is the removal of natural and semi-natural areas in the landscape and the increase in monocultures of annual crops, is typically associated with a decrease in species richness and increases in crop pest abundance,” he said. “These effects go beyond mere aesthetics. The consequences of landscape simplification are felt by growers who apply more pesticides in landscapes dominated by annual cropland. The question then, is can we balance our needs for agricultural production (both food and fuel) in a way that supports other ecosystem services on which we as humans depend?”
“I argue that understanding the relationships between landscape structure and the tradeoffs between ecosystem services will be a key a designing ‘custom’ multifunctional landscapes.”
Gratton, who has a bachelor of science degree in biology from the University of Illinois (1991) and a doctorate in entomology from UC Berkeley (1997), joined the University of Wisconsin faculty in 2003. His research group works broadly in the field of landscape ecology in both agricultural and natural systems. In Wisconsin agriculture, he has been interested in understanding how beneficial insects, such as pollinators and lady beetles, utilize the landscape and carry out important functions such as pollination of crops and suppression of insect pests.
His work in agroecology has included studying insect landscape ecology and conservation in potatoes, rotational grazing, grasslands, soybeans, cranberries and apples.
Gratton has worked with growers to understand how to best manage non-crop “natural” areas in the landscape in order to enhance and conserve beneficial insects. He is also an active member of the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center as part of the team looking at developing sustainable bioenergy crops. He teaches courses in insect biological control, multivariate analysis and coastal field ecology.
How do beneficial insects such as lady beetles utilize the landscape? Claudio Gratton will explain how in his April 10 lecture. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
In research led by postdoctoral researcher Zuodong Zhang, a team of 16 scientists discovered a key mechanism by which dietary omega-3 fatty acids (fish oils) could reduce the tumor growth and spread of cancer, a disease that kills some 580,000 Americans a year.
The research is published today (April 3) in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). They discovered cytochrome P450 epoxygenase metabolites of omega-3 fatty acid DHA or epoxy docosapentaenoic acids (EDPs) block blood supply to the tumor and thus inhibit tumor growth and metastasis.
The natural EDPs were further stabilized by a drug called a soluble epoxide hydrolase inhibitor which is already under development to control pain and hypertension.
“Many human studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids reduce the risks of cancers, but the mechanism is poorly understood,” said Zhang, a postdoctoral researcher who focuses his research on lipid mediators on angiogenesis, tumor growth and metastasis. “Our study provides a novel mechanism by which these omega-3 lipids inhibit cancer.”
“We demonstrated that EDPs have very potent anti-cancer and anti-metastatic effects,” Zhang said. “Current anti-cancer drugs that block angiogenesis (the formation of new blood vessels to fuel tumor progression) can cause serious side effects such as hypertension. By blocking angiogenesis by a new mechanism and by widening blood vessels, EDPs could block tumor growth with reduced side effects in cancer patients.”
The studies, conducted on mice, also suggest that a combination of omega-3 diet and some anti-cancer drugs such as sorafenib, “could not only be efficacious to treat cancers but reduce potential side effects,” said Zhang, who received his doctorate in food science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
“Thus the effects of the soluble epoxide hydrolase inhibitors have opposite effects depending on whether the background lipid mediators are omega 3 or omega 6,” Hammock said. “Assuming that humans are mice (the study involved mice), the prediction is that with some cancer drugs--particularly the ones like sorafenib and regorafenib that are potent epoxide hydrolase inhibitors as well as anti-angiogenic agents--these could be more effective with a high omega 3 and low omega 6 background.”
“This is an exciting step towards our full appreciation of the impact of bioactive products from the DHA metabolome,” said Charles Serhan of Harvard Medical School, an expert on omega-3 autacoids and inflammation who is the Simon Gelman Professor of Anesthesia, Periopterative and Pain Medicine, Harvard Medical School. “This (UC Davis) contribution places metabolic conversion of omega-3 DHA to epoxy DHA products pivotal in vascular mechanisms key in cancer and vascular biology. It will be exciting to watch these important findings translated to humans for new evidence based treatments for angiogenesis, tumor growth and cancer metastasis.”
Said cardiologist Jonathan Lindner of the Oregon Health & Science University: “New drug strategies for fighting cancer could emerge from knowledge of how the body uses nutrition to promote health. Diet has been shown to influence susceptibility to many types of cancer, and also to influence rate of tumor progression and response to chemotherapy. This information has been leveraged to make reasonable recommendations on diet in patients with cancer. Perhaps more importantly, by uncovering how diet influences tumor development and growth, it may be possible to develop new drugs that work through the same beneficial pathways.”
“The study by Zhang and colleagues has uncovered a previously unrecognized anti-cancer effect of omega-3 fatty acids which are an important lipid component of diets that have been developed to prevent heart disease and cancer,” Lindner said. “The authors have demonstrated that metabolites of these lipids can act to suppress the growth of new blood vessels that are necessary to feed tumor growth. By shutting off the tumor’s blood supply, these compounds can act to dramatically slow tumor growth and prevent metastasis. The results from this suggest that new drug strategies for fighting cancer could emerge from knowledge of how the body uses nutrition to promote health.”
Read more about the research on the UC Davis Department of Entomology website and see photos of some of the co-authors.
UC Davis postdoctoral researcher Zuodong Zhang. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
It promises to be a lively discussion.
UC Davis entomologist Bruce Hammock, distinguished professor of entomology, will speak on “From Butterflies to Blood Pressure and Beyond: Is It Possible to Get a Drug to the Clinic with a University’s Help?” at a Science Café session set Wednesday, April 3 at 5:30 p.m. in Crepeville, 330 3rd St., Davis.
The session, open to the public and billed as “a conversation with Professor Bruce Hammock,” will be hosted by the UC Davis Division of Math and Physical Sciences. Co-sponsor is the Department of Chemistry. Professor Jared T. Shaw will introduce Hammock.
Said Hammock: “The science is how basic research on insects has led to a drug for blocking hypertension and neuropathic pain. The general discussion is on the difficulties of translating basic science paid for by the taxpayer, into a technology that can actually help the taxpayer.”
Hammock, a member of the UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty since 1980, holds a joint appointment with the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Research Center, and directs the campuswide Superfund Research Program, National Institutes of Health Biotechnology Training Program, and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (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 2001 UC Davis Faculty Research Lecture Award and the 2008 Distinguished Teaching Award for Graduate and Professional Teaching.
Western tiger swallowtail, Papilio rutulus. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Bruce Hammock in his habitat. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)