written by: Amanda Brucchieri and Robert Salerno
Have you ever thought of pursuing a career within the federal government? Do you know what opportunities exist for research, extension, and policy/regulation? During this week’s colloquium talk, Dr. Chris Peterson, an International Food Security, and Pest Management Professional working for the USDA Foreign Agriculture Service, passed on his knowledge and wisdom about career paths within the federal government. He wanted to bring a personal perspective to the field of government employment and help students navigate their next steps as future scientists so he came on his own time and was not speaking as a representative of the USDA. Dr. Peterson holds a Ph.D. in Entomology and Toxicology from Iowa State University and has held several positions within the Forest Service, Peace Corps, and currently, the Foreign Agricultural Service.
The College talks to Dr. Espíndola about latest paper:
Climate change is taking a serious toll on insects, UMD Entomology's Anahí Espíndola and dozens of scientists from around the world warned in a new paper published by the Ecological Society of America.
“We need to realize, as humans, that we are one species out of millions of species, and there's no reason for us to assume that we’re never going to go extinct,” Anahí said. “These changes to insects can affect our species in pretty drastic ways.”
Link to full press release here>>
Graduate Student Mariom A. Carvajal (Shultz Lab) co-authors report with Universidad de Magallanes researcher Eduardo I. Faúndez on the southernmost lacewing - Hemerobiidae. This documentation of Hemerobiidae extends the known distribution of lacewings about 110km further south than previously recorded. https://go.umd.edu/cKn
Registration open for The American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Charles Valentine Riley memorial lecture held Nov 30, 2022. Dr. Douglas Landis Michigan State University will present "Designing Pest Suppressive Agricultural Landscapes for a Changing World. '' Followed by panel discussion led by noted researchers, including ours truly, Dr. Megan Fritz, Asst Prof, University of Maryland. Register for the event: https://www.aaas.org/riley-lecture
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written by: Ben Burgunder & Eric Hartel
How can modeling and mathematics inform our research of macroevolution? Towson University professor Dr. Daniel Caetano visited the University of Maryland's entomology department to deliver a lecture on his many research interests. Dr. Caetano explores evolution through mathematical modeling and novel approaches to phylogenetic comparative methods. Phylogeny is the scientific approach to understanding the evolutionary relationships between groups of organisms and phylogenomics is the application of genomics to phylogenetics research. Dr. Caetano explained that his research is supported by two pillars: trait evolution and species diversification. He discussed two examples of developing novel methodology from published, publicly available datasets.
written by: Minh Le
Not many people have heard of the sorghum plant, so you might be surprised to know that it is grown in 21 states (Figure 1)! The “Sorghum Belt”, or area comprising states that have abundant sorghum production, stretches from South Dakota all the way down to southern Texas (National Sorghum Producers). The sorghum plant produces nutritious grain, which is an important ingredient for livestock feeds as well as a whole grain alternative to people with low gluten tolerance or who suffer from celiac disease. Besides its nutritional benefits, sorghum production can have a positive impact on the environment and sustainability efforts, as the sorghum bushels can be extracted for ethanol, a renewable source of fuel, and require one-third less water to grow compared to other feedstocks (National Sorghum Producers). Despite its agricultural and environmental importance, as with other widely cultivated agricultural crops, these plants are a buffet for pest insects whose voracious appetite cause significant economic damage every year. A prominent invasive pest feeding on sorghum in the US is the sorghum aphid (Melanaphis sorghi). These insects use their syringe-like mouthparts to pierce and suck juices from plant tissues, damaging them. In 2013 and 2014, it is estimated that these aphids caused 50 to 100% of crop loss, and in 2015, sorghum producers in the Rio Grande Valley lost approximately 31 million dollars. The entomology colloquium welcomes Dr. Jocelyn Holt, a researcher at Rice University, Texas, who provided insight into her research on the population genetics of sorghum aphids across the US and the symbiotic microbiota that is associated with them.
Varroa mites and viruses they vector are leading causes of honeybee losses. University of Maryland researchers Drs Eugene Ryabov (Bee Lab) and Zachary Lamas (Hawthorne Lab) team up with U.S. Department of Agriculture to study varroa mite infectiousness and the effect of the vectored viruses on varroa survival. Last month they published their findings in Frontiers in Insect Science entitled, “The vectoring competence of the mite Varroa destructor for deformed wing virus of honey bees is dynamic and affects survival of the mite.” The authors hope this work will provide new insights into the varroa mites' impact on colony disease and ways to manage it.
Link to paper: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/finsc.2022.931352/full
University of Maryland PhD candidate Kyle D. Brumfield and Drs. Rita Colwell and Michael Raupp, teamed up with colleagues from the University of Connecticut-Storrs, University of Connecticut-Hartford, University of California Berkeley, and EZbiome, Inc. to explore the rich diversity of the gut microbiome of periodical cicadas. For those interested in learning more about their research into these remarkable insects, check out publication out this week in Scientific Reports.
Link to article: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-022-20527-7
Prof Emeritus Mike Raupp tells the The Weather Channel yes, ants are indeed abundant, reaching every continent except for Antarctica. "They outweigh birds and all wild mammals which is is simply a huge huge amount of mass" Raupp says. & not only are the sheer # and distribution of ants amazing but so is the extraordinary contributions ants make to our planet. Learn more here:
written by: Darsy Smith and Benjamin P. Gregory
How do insects that live in dry environments like deserts keep from drying out, and how might these adaptations help them adjust to our constantly changing world? For our first colloquium of October, the Entomology Department welcomed Dr. Henry Chung, an assistant professor at Michigan State. Dr. Chung’s research investigates the genetic mechanisms underlying insect adaptations to different environmental conditions, particularly dry ones. Just like humans, insects need water to live their lives, so making sure they don’t dry out–or desiccate–is vital to their survival. So how do insects that live in hot and dry conditions prevent desiccation? One of the most important pieces of an insect’s defense against desiccation is its epicuticle, the waxy top layer of its exoskeleton, and the chemical pieces that make up this epicuticle, called cuticular hydrocarbons (CHCs).
Spiders of the genus Steatoda, known as false black widows, have a resemblance to the black widow but are less harmful. However, around the world, there has been an increase of reports that this "less harmful" genus has been causing quite a debilitating bite. Heightened public concern has researchers, like grad student Mariom Adriana Carvajal (Shultz Lab), revisiting this genus. Mariom has been studying 1 of the 7 species found in Chile, taking a second look at its characteristics and its distribution. Today, Mariom and collegues published some of that work in Revista Chilena de Entomología, entitled, “A new record of Steatoda porteri in Chile.” Their findings show that although Steatoda porteri has extended its range, it remains outside urban areas for now.
written by: Alireza Shokoohi
What are you passionate about? Dr. Carlos Blanco may be a Senior Entomologist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, handling the international import and domestic movement of insects, but he still spends much of his own time conducting research. Early in the mornings and on weekends, he can be found in crop fields collecting data to answer questions about a subject he is passionate about: corn.
Sorry DMV residents, mosquitoes are predicted to follow us well into the fall season. University of Maryland Prof Emeritus Mike Raupp shares why with the Washington Post.
Quote: Because they’re coldblooded, insect development is very closely tied to ambient temperature, so the warmer it is, the faster they develop,” Raupp said. “Our mosquitoes can have multiple generations every year. So as we move into a warming world — because it gets warm earlier, it stays warm later and it’s generally hotter — we simply have more generations of these mosquitoes every single year.
link to article: https://www.washingtonpost.com/dc-md-va/2022/09/25/mosquito-season-washington/
With a bit of help from UMD's Teaching and Learning Innovation Grant, Drs Lamp and Avanesyan show Freshwater Biology students how to use innovative tech to extract DNA from insects and ID species. Read more at MD Today article "From Bugs to Bronze Age, Nearly 300 Courses Get Creative Boost"
Congratulations to Dr. Margaret Palmer for being awarded Honorary Membership at the British Ecological Society. This award recognizes Margaret's exceptional contribution at the international level to the generation, communication and promotion of ecological knowledge and solutions. See BES's press release here>>
Earlier this month UMD Entomology faculty and students attended EntoQuest, a premiere summer event put on by the ESA’s Eastern Branch. Located in the beautiful mountains outside Front Royal, Virginia the meeting was designed to instill a sense of community, bringing together students, professors and professionals from all over. Events throughout the weekend provided chances to network, learn, explore, and collect with fellow insect enthusiasts. There were opportunities to gain knowledge about aquatic macroinvertebrates, forensic entomology, collection techniques and the pestering lantern fly. Experts shared their knowledge through laid back conversations and casual poster viewing. Amanda Rae Brucchieri, 1st yr grad student in Lamp lab said, “The first ever Eastern Branch Summer EntoQuest was a great way for attendees to enjoy the company and knowledge of others, wrapping up a summer full of data collection and running around perfectly.” See photo of Amanda and other UMD attendees below. & if you are interested in future Eastern Branch events, check out plans for the next meeting in Providence, Rhode Island.
The bold beautiful colors of a 1 inch long adult spotted lanternfly are pretty hard to miss. Their striking attributes allow for researchers to make many experimental observations about the insects, including discoveries about their feeding preferences as adults. However, at the earliest instars the spotted lanternflies are smaller and muted in color making feeding preferences much more difficult for researchers to track by observation alone. To overcome the difficulties of the observational approach, the Lamp Lab turns to DNA metabarcoding to get more insights about their diet. The results of their study were published earlier this summer in a special issue of Insects.
Focusing exclusively on the first nymphal instars, the Lamp Lab used a novel approach, utilizing “bulk” DNA extracts for DNA metabarcoding of nymphal gut contents, to identify plants that the nymphs had ingested prior to being collected. Through this novel approach they were able to identify 13 novel host plants that have not been previously included in host plant lists for spotted lanternfly in the U.S. The Lamp Lab is hopeful that discoveries like these, on the diet of the spotted lanternfly across development stages, will lead to better management of this invasive species.
Share your colleagues work with your networks on facebook, twitter, the car ride with your friends who are always asking you about bugs b/c you work in Entomology.
Metarhizium is a common fungus that is found in soil and widely used in insect pest control today. It is known for its ability to kill a wide range of insects, protect surrounding plants and provide plants with much sought after nitrogen. St. Leger Lab has a new paper out in Current Opinion in Microbiology that looks into the current research on this fungi and its–plant–insect interactions. Although experimentation has led to detailed knowledge of how this fungus interacts with plants and insects, most of these studies have focused on highly controlled interactions between single species in the lab, leading to a knowledge gap when it comes to understanding Metarhizium plant–insect interactions in natural communities. The authors hope an increase in Metarhizium studies on natural ecosystems will lead to a more comprehensive understanding of this fungi’s plant protection ability.
Before concluding a shout out is needed. Congrats to Huiyu Sheng, this is her 1st first-authored paper, and to Raymond St. Leger her proud UMD mentor.
Please share news with friends, colleagues & that one fungi you met while at your last conference: facebook and twitte
In honor of #NationalPollinatorMonth the U.S. Department of Agriculture highlights the amazing work of an incredible person, Dr. Anahi Espindola, Asst Prof at the University of Maryland. Anahi shares details on current NIFA projects, provides sage advice to up and comers & promotes DEI.
Read article her: https://go.umd.edu/cTJ
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