Posts Tagged: Robert E. Page Jr.
That's the title of a newly published book written by Robert E. Page Jr., one of the world's foremost honey bee geneticists.
In his 224-page book, published by Harvard University Press, Page sheds light on how 40,000 bees, "working in the dark, seemingly by instinct alone, could organize themselves to contstruct something as perfect a a honey comb."
Page, former professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, marvels at how bees can accomplish these incredible tasks. In synthesizing the findings of decades of experiments, he presents "a comprehensive picture of the genetic and physiological mechanisms underlying the division of labor in honey bee colonies and explains how bees' complex social behavior has evolved over millions of years," according to the Harvard University flier.
Page, now vice provost and dean of the Arizona State University's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and Foundation Professor of Life Sciences, still keeps his specialized stock of honey bees at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at UC Davis. Bee breeder-geneticist Michael “Kim” Fondrk, who worked with Page at Ohio State University, UC Davis and ASU, manages the stock.
In his book, Page talks about the coordinated activity of the bees and how worker bees respond to stimuli in their environment. The actions they take in turn alter the environment, Page says, and "so change the stimuli for their nestmates. For example, a bee detecting ample stores of pollen in the hive is inhibited from foraging for more, whereas detecting the presence of hungry young larvae will stimulate pollen gathering."
Division of labor, Page says, is an inevitable product of group living because "individual bees vary genetically and physiologically in their sensitivities to stimuli and have different probabilities of encountering and responding to them."
Page, who received his doctorate in entomology at UC Davis in 1980, served as an assistant professor at Ohio State University before joining the UC Davis Department of Entomology in 1989. He chaired the department for five years, from 1999 to 2004.
In 2004--the year Page retired from UC Davis--ASU recruited him as the founding director and dean of the School of Life Sciences. At the time, his duties included organizing three departments—biology, microbiology and botany, totaling more than 600 faculty, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and staff--into one unified school.
As its founding director, Page established the school as a platform for discovery in the biomedical, genomic and evolutionary and environmental sciences. He also established ASU’s Honey Bee Research Facility.
Page is a highly cited author on such topics as Africanized bees, genetics and evolution of social organization, sex determination, and division of labor in insect societies.
Add this one to the list: The Spirit of the Hive.
The queen and her court. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Queen cells. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The "honey bee reproductive ground plan" hypothesis that originated two dec
Page, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis and now founding director of the School of Life Sciences at Arizona State University, and his collaborator Gro Amdam, are featured in the Oct. 23rd edition of Science, a publication of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Writing in the behavior ecology section in an article headlined, "Sex and Social Structure," journalist Elizabeth Pennisi related that the scientists' research "has shown that reproductive traits help shape a honey bee worker's role in life and that ovaries are active players in the process-even if they play little role in reproduction in worker bees."
The specialized tasks "have their basis in what Amdam and Page call a reproductive ground plan," she wrote. Their work has provided a framework and tools to study division of labor, which now "converges on two genes that may explain both ovary size and behavior."
Page and Amdam, an associate professor in the School of Life Sciences and Norwegian University of Life Sciences, believe that genes and hormones likely control social roles as well as longevity.
Their research centers on the role of the ovary in honey bee colonies, and how the worker bees partition the labor of the colony with duties that include rearing young bees, constructing the nest, foraging for pollen and nectar, and processing the food.
Page, a pioneer in the field of evolutionary genetics and social behavior of bees, has long marveled at how highly social bees are. Worker bees, or infertile females, instinctively divide up their roles to run the hive, freeing the queen to lay eggs.
The worker bees serve as nurse maids, nannies, royal attendants, architects, builders, foragers, guards and undertakers.
But why are some colonies high-pollen collectors and hoarders, while others aren't?
His research on high and low pollen hoarding strains that began two decades led to the "reproductive ground plan" hypothesis. Page continues to keep his specialized bee stock, managed by bee breeder-geneticist M. Kim Fondrk, at UC Davis.
This is exciting research.
As Page told us: "The reproductive ground plan research is integrating developmental biology into insect sociobiology. It is completing the synthesis by looking for the signatures of levels of selection above the organism, at the level of the genes, physiology, and embryogenesis. It is substantiating the superorganism."
UC Davis is the hub for the development and maintenance of the high and low pollen hoarding strains of bees "that have been fundamental in testing the reproductive ground plan hypothesis and understanding how selection on colonies affects different levels of biological organization from genes to societies," he said.
Page, who received his doctorate in entomology from UC Davis, retired from UC Davis in 2004 to develop the School of Life Sciences in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Arizona State University.
Page and Amdam are the co-principal investigators on a federally funded project directed by UC Davis entomology professor James R. Carey. Carey directs the Biodemographic Determinants of Lifespan, a National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Aging-funded program involving scientists from UC Davis, UC Santa Barbara, UC Berkeley, Stanford and seven other academic institutions in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Greece.See more information on the UC Davis Entomology Web site.
Hives of International Interest
Honey bee geneticist Robert E. Page Jr. is in good company.
Good company, indeed.
Think scientists Marie Curie, Albert Einstein and Charles Darwin.
Page, who received his doctorate in entomology from UC Davis in 1980 and then became a noted geneticist at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, UC Davis, has just been elected to the oldest scientific academy of science, the Germany Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, which dates back to 1652.
Besides Darwin, Curie and Einstein, the academy membership has included explorer Alexander von Humboldt and author Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
Overall, some of the most brilliant and innovative minds in physics, chemistry, biology, philosophy and mathematics.
“Alexander von Humboldt and Charles Darwin are my heroes,” said Page. “I am truly honored to belong to an academy that lists them as former members.”
Page is known for his pioneering research in the behavioral genetics of honey. His expertise includes Africanized bees, genetics and evolution of social organization, sex determination and division of labor in insect societies. His work has graced the covers of such respected journals as Naturwissenschaften, Nature, Genome Research, Cell and BioEssays.
Page, former chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, "officially" retired from UC Davis in 2004, but he didn't stay retired. Arizona State University recruited him that same year to organize three departments (biology, microbiology and botany) into ASU’s
“Rob Page is one of the most gifted scientists, administrators, and teachers I have had the privilege to know in 30 years in academia,” said James Carey, UC Davis professor of entomology and program director of the Biodemographic Determinants of Life Span project, who collaborates with Page. “Those of us who have worked with him congratulate him and are proud to call him our colleague and friend.”
UC Davis chemical ecologist Walter Leal, professor and former chair of the Department of Entomology, described Page as “one-of-a-kind: a premier scholar and an exemplary administrator.”
Rob Page's specialized stock of honey bees is legendary, too. It's back at UC Davis.
We first saw these special honey bees when bee breeder-geneticist Michael "Kim" Fondrk, who manages the Page stock, trucked the bees to Dixon to pollinate an almond orchard. The San Francisco Chronicle covered the story. Fondrk opened a hive to point out the queen bee, the worker bees and the drones.
And just as beautiful is the well-deserved honor that honey bee geneticist Robert E. Page Jr. just received./st1:place>/st1:placename>/st1:place>/st1:placename>/st1:placetype>/o:p>/o:p>/o:smarttagtype>/o:smarttagtype>/o:smarttagtype>/o:smarttagtype>
Frame of Bees