Katie Reding and Leslie Pick’s paper, High Efficiency CRISPR/Cas9 Mutagenesis of the white Gene in the Milkweed Bug Oncopeltus fasciatus has been chosen for GSA journals’ 2020 Spotlight Collection of research and scholarship. The collection curated by the editors showcases noteworthy examples of genetics and genomics investigations. Congratulations to the Pick Lab for this exciting recognition!
Visit the collection here: https://academic.oup.com/genetics/pages/spotlight
More on the article: Entomology graduate student Katie Reding (Pick lab) used CRISPR/Cas9 to make a genomic deletion of the white gene in the milkweed bug Oncopeltus fasciatus. The white gene was one of the first genes identified in Drosophila, over 100 years ago, where it is necessary for the red eye color of flies. Interesting, in Oncopeltus, white is necessary for pigmentation throughout the body but it is also necessary for organismal survival, as animals homozygous for the white mutations do not survive to adulthood. This is the first demonstration that CRISPR is effective in Oncopeltus. Methods Katie developed will be useful for researchers to test the function of other genes in this and related species.
In the spring, trillions of periodical cicadas are expected to emerge. "They will be a source of wonder and consternation as they emerge from the earth and lay eggs in treetops.” writes Prof. Emeritus Mike Raupp in Tree Care Industry Association Magazine.
Katy Evans, PhD student in Espindola Lab, co-authors new publication w/ Penn State researchers, "The Role of Pathogen Dynamics and Immune Gene Expression in the Survival of Feral Honey Bees" out in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution earlier this month. Their research shows feral colonies may have higher tolerance to pathogens than managed honey bee colonies. Understanding environmental and genetic factors behind the feral bees' increased immunity could help beekeepers combat colony losses.
For more details about the study, check out Penn State's press release.
Professor Emeritus, Galen Dively and his colleagues have a new paper out in the Journal of Economic Entomology titled, “Sweet Corn Sentinel Monitoring for Lepidopteran Field-Evolved Resistance to Bt Toxins” The study demonstrates that the sentinel plot approach as an in-field screen can effectively monitor phenotypic resistance and document field-evolved resistance in target pest populations, improving resistance monitoring for Bt crops. As a direct result of Galen’s research, the EPA has proposed a number of changes to the way the agency monitors genetically modified crop technologies. This fall Galen presented his research at the Fall Entomology Seminar Series. Check out PhD students Darsy Smith and Veronica Yurchak's Seminar Blog summarizing that talk.
On a related note, a recent Maryland Farm & Harvest episode covered several stories on corn production, including a segment at the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center featuring Galen’s research on genetically modified corn.
Congratulations to Entomology’s Alys Jarvela and Leslie Pick whose paper was just published in Communications Biology. Their research showed that mosquitos lost a gene that is essential for survival in other insects without ill effects. They also found that a related gene stepped in and took over the lost gene’s role. This discovery represents the first time that scientists identified a gene that naturally evolved to perform the same critical function as a related gene long after the two genes diverged down different evolutionary paths.
You can read CMNS press release on the paper here: https://cmns.umd.edu/news-events/features/4664
In a paper published in Genetics today (https://www.genetics.org/content/215/4/1027) Entomology graduate student Katie Reding (Pick lab) used CRISPR/Cas9 to make a genomic deletion of the white gene in the milkweed bug Oncopeltus fasciatus. The white gene was one of the first genes identified in Drosophila, over 100 years ago, where it is necessary for the red eye color of flies. Interesting, in Oncopeltus, white is necessary for pigmentation throughout the body but it is also necessary for organismal survival, as animals homozygous for the white mutations do not survive to adulthood. This is the first demonstration that CRISPR is effective in Oncopeltus. Methods Katie developed will be useful for researchers to test the function of other genes in this and related species.
Interested in seeing bess beetles, some of mother nature's champion recyclers, at work? Now is a great time, blogs Bug of the Week's Professor Raupp. Bess beetles can be spotted scurrying across the forest floor recycling wood of fallen trees.
Moths and butterflies play a vital role in pollinating plants on wild and manged lands. So how vital are they? Associate Professor and Extension Specialist, Cerruti Hooks, and Assistant Professor, Anahi Espindola pair up to respond. The two blog in Maryland Agronomy News about the efficiency of moths and butterflies as pollinators and advocate for the conservation of these important insects.
Trio from Pick Lab, Faculty Assistant Jessica Hernandez, Prof and Chair Leslie Pick and Grad Student Katie Reding, look into using a new study organism to discover novel genes and mechanisms. Their findings conclude that harlequin bugs are a versatile insect model, effective for examining gene expression. The Pick Lab takes us through their discovery, from rearing harlequin bugs in the lab to where they see molecular genetic analysis of harlequin bugs leading. Learn more in their latest paper out this month in EvoDevo "Oncopeltus-like gene expression patterns in Murgantia histrionica, a new hemipteran model system, suggest ancient regulatory network divergence."
Grad Student Darsy Smith and Professor Bill Lamp have an article out in a special edition of University of Maryland Extension's Agronomy News entitled, "Unexpected Outbreak of Cowpea Aphid in Alfalfa." Although outbreaks have been observed in the past, they warn that this outbreak, discovered by Terry Patton (Dively Lab), is considerable in size and extent. Follow link to see their guidance on identifying, monitoring and reporting this crop damaging pest.
Professor Emeritus Michael Raupp collaborates with researchers Ashley N. Schulz, Angela M. Mech, Craig R. Allen, Matthew P. Ayres and others to develop standardized tools for determining non-native insect impact. They are optimistic that standardized assessment tools can build consensus among experts, which in turn, could improve managers and policy makers' response to the threats imposed by non-native species. Their findings were published this month in NeoBiota. Follow link for publication, "The impact is in the details: evaluating a standardized protocol and scale for determining non-native insect impact"
Postdoc Alina Avanesyan and Professor Bill Lamp have another publication out on the invasive lanternfly. The paper entitled, "Use of Molecular Gut Content Analysis to Decipher the Range of Food Plants of the Invasive Spotted Lanternfly, Lycorma delicatula" was published in Insects special issue "Molecular Gut Content Analysis: Deciphering Trophic Interactions of Insects.” Their study is the first to show that host plant DNA can be identified within the gut contents of the spotted lanternfly. Molecular gut content analysis provides insight into the feeding behavior of lanternflies at all developmental stages and can be helpful in predicting host plant range. This research could improve the monitoring and management of this invasive species.
Krisztina Christmon (PhD student, vanEngelsdorp Lab), who is studying the host-parasite-pathogen interaction of honeybees, is co-author of a paper published in Viruses special issue: Advances in Honey Bee Virus Research. Follow link to read Krisztina’s first ever publication titled, “Development of a Honeybee RNA Virus Vector Based on the Genome of a Deformed Wing Virus.” Krisztina and her fellow researchers are hopeful that the development of these vectors could lead to the further understanding of viruses like deformed wing virus including similar viruses affecting different bee species.
Congratulations on reaching this milestone Krisztina!
MacCracken has a paper out in the Journal of Plant Sciences on Permian insect herbivory titled, "The Middle Permian South Ash Pasture Assemblage of North-Central Texas: Coniferophyte and Gigantopterid Herbivory and Longer-Term Herbivory Trends." Check out publication here>>
Congratulations to Aditi Dubey, Maggie Lewis, Galen Dively and Kelly Hamby whose research paper, "Ecological impacts of pesticide seed treatments on arthropod communities in a grain crop rotation", was published last week in the Journal of Applied Ecology.
Their findings, "Pesticide seed treatments can impact arthropod taxa, including important natural enemies even when environmental persistence and active ingredient concentrations are low."
Congratulations to Gussie MacCracken (PhD Student, Shultz Lab) whose paper is out in Biology Letters today! Her research extends the history of plant–mite mutualisms back another 25 million years.
Publication: "Late Cretaceous domatia reveal the antiquity of plant–mite mutualisms in flowering plants." https://doi.org/10.1098/rsbl.2019.0657
Gussie Maccracken (PhD student, Shultz Lab) co-authors paper published in Science looking at the recovery of ecosystems after the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction. The publication was featured in The NY Times and a corresponding NOVA special.
Postdoc Torsten Schoneberg and Assistant Professor Kelly Hamby work with MSU & USDA to explore the use of microbial sterilants as a management tool for Spotted-Wing Drosophila infestations. Check out recently published paper on their research, “Exploring the Efficacy andMechanisms of a Crop Sterilant for Reducing Infestation by Spotted-Wing Drosophila (Diptera: Drosophilidae)”
Study led by Professor Emerita Barbara Thorne looks into the origins of conehead termites in Florida. Publication featured in Entomology Today.
“Our results show that human transport of infested materials is a significant risk for spreading populations of invasive conehead termites,” Thorne says. “The operational application of this result is that, beginning immediately upon discovery of invasive coneheads (or any species in the genus Nasutitermes), alerts and precautions must be implemented to prevent movement of potentially infested materials to a new location.”
Read full article here>>
Cato A, ^ Afful E, Nayak MK and Phillips TW. Evaluation of Knockdown Bioassay Methods to Assess Phosphine Resistance in the Red Flour Beetle, Tribolium castaneum (Herbst) (Coleoptera: Tenebrionidae). Insects. 2019.
Dively GP, Huang F, Oyediran I, Burd T and Morsello S. Evaluation of gene flow in structured and seed blend refuge systems of non-Bt and Bt corn. Journal of Pest Science. 2019. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10340-019-01126-4
Thompson BM, Bodart J and Gruner DS. Community resistance to an invasive forest insect–fungus mutualism. Ecosphere. 2019. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/ecs2.2609
^Lewis MT, and Hamby K.A. Differential impacts of yeasts on feeding behavior and development in larval Drosophila suzukii (Diptera:Drosophilidae). Scientific Reports. 2019. (manuscript accepted)
Serrano-Brañas CI, Espinosa-Chávez B and ^MacCracken SA. Teredolites trace fossils in log-grounds from the Cerro del Pueblo Formation (Upper Cretaceous) of the state of Coahuila, Mexico. Journal of South American Earth Sciences. 2019. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsames.2019.102316
Niu K, Xiang L, Jin Y…[& 10 others including Wang J]. Identification of LARK as a novel and conserved G-quadruplex binding protein in invertebrates and vertebrates. Nucleic Acids Research. 2019. DOI: DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/nar/gkz484
Shen C, Zhang Y, Xia D, Wang J and Tang Q. Sensilla on the Antennal Funiculus of the Maize Weevil, Sitophilus zeamais (Motschulsky) (Coleoptera: Curculionidae): A Morphological Investigation. The Coleopterists Bulletin. 2019. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1649/0010-065X-73.2.443
Talks and Presentations
^Abell KJ, ^Andrade RB, Duan JJ, Gruner DS and Shrewsbury PM. “Do treated ash trees confer a protective ‘silhouette’ from emerald ash borer for neighboring trees? Joint meeting of IUFRO Working Parties: Population dynamics and integrated management of forest insects, Quebec City, Canada. 2019.
Gruner DS, Rankin EEW, Knowlton JL, Flaspohler DJ, Giardina CP, and Fukami T. “Does forest fragment size mediate the impacts of introduced rodent predators? Foraging behavior of Hawaiian birds and their arthropod resources.” 56th Annual Meeting of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation, Antananarivo, Madagascar.2019.
^Jayd K, R MacKenzie, M Apwong and DS Gruner. “Mangrove herbivory across a salinity gradient.” Annual Meeting of the Entomological Society of America, St. Louis, MO.2019.
Pick L. "What is RNA interference, and how will it affect the future of food?" Tech Talk. USDA, Washington DC. 2019
^Tielens EK and Gruner DS. "Insect communities across a space for time chronosequence converge over time: analyzing patterns and drivers of beta-diversity on Hawai‘i." Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America, Louisville, KY.2019.
Bold ENTM Faculty; ^ENTM current/former graduate student or post-doc; *ENTM research staff
This summer, Lisa Kuder (PhD Student, vanEngelsdorp lab) wrapped up her research project with The Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA) titled, “Evaluating Integrated Roadside Vegetation Management (IRVM) Techniques to Improve Pollinator Habitat.” This three-year field study had two main goals: to determine which vegetation management tactics best maximize quality floral resources for pollinators in the Northeast, and to assess how those different regimes affect regional bee populations. The findings show that managing roadsides via selective herbicide use (SH) and annual fall mow (fall mow) can significantly increase floral diversity and bee abundance compared to a traditional frequent mowing (turf) regime. While differences between treatments – SH and fall mow – were detected, they were not significant. Bee diversity, which accounts for both abundance and the evenness of species in a given area, was mainly determined by site/surrounding landscape not treatment and was the sole significant factor. Given that floral abundance and diversity, as well as bee abundance, were increased under SH and fall mow compared to turf plots, both Integrated Roadside Vegetation Management (IRVM) practices have shown great potential in supporting pollinators.
The final report can be read here>>
Congratulations to the vanEngelsdorp Lab for their work on the 13th Annual Honey Bee Loss Survey. The 13th Annual BIP Honey Bee Colony Loss Survey was released in June. The survey showed that U.S. beekeepers lost almost 40% of their bee colonies last winter, the largest loss recorded in 13 years. Researchers are using this data to establish best management practices that will help beekeepers improve the health of bees.
Thanks to the Colleges’ communication teams the survey gained widespread media coverage. Read the CMNS press release here>>
Other notable media mentions include: The Washington Post, The Baltimore Sun, NPR's The Salt, The Guardian, The San Francisco Chronicle, Kojo Nnamdi, ABC7 and FOX5.