Backyard Orchard News
What's medical entomolology?
Anyone who's an entomologist or who works in entomology is asked that question periodically. Medical, they know. Entomology? Often not. But medical entomology?
Well, it's the study of relationships among arthorpods, microbial pathogens and human health, according to medical entomologist Thomas Scott, professor of entomology at UC Davis.
Scott teaches courses on medical entomology. His next one: the 2009 winter quarter, Jan. 5 through March 16.
Worldwide, Scott says, arthropod-borne diseases have devastating effects on human health; they are a leading cause of human morbidity and mortality.
In his course, he explains the basic biology of medically important arthropods and the pathogens they transmit. The diseases include malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever, West Nile virus, Lyme disease and River Blindness.
Scott, a noted mosquito-borne disease expert and newly elected fellow of the prestigious American Association for the Advancement of Science (for "distinguished contributions to the biology and ecology of mosquitoes and his leadership in developing strategic concepts for preventing dengue fever and other mosquito-borne diseases”) does research from his mosquito research laboratory at UC Davis and at field stations in Peru, Thailand and Mexico.
In January, Scott hosted the 42nd annual U.S.-Japan Parasitic Disease Conference on the UC Davis campus. Some 100 scientists from throughout the world participated in the three-day conference "to develop a cross-cutting perspective on what the priorities should be for the future research on arthropod vectors of disease," he explained.
With new and emerging diseases, increasing national and international travel, settlement in endemic areas, and the proliferation of commerce, we can expect disease from vector-borne pathogens to increase, Scott says.
It's obvious what we need less of (diseases) and what we need more of (medical entomologists).
Thomas Scott in Kenya
Mosquito that tranmits dengue
It’s official. University of California, Davis scientists who manage campus biological collections have just received a five-year, $4 million grant to research the biodiversity of fungi, bacteria, plants, insects and vertebrates on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, a southeast Asian island threatened by the loss of biodiversity in its tropical forests.
The International Cooperative Biodiversity Group Program is funding the grant. This is a multi-agency program led by the National Institutes of Health with contributions from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Department of Energy, and the National Science Foundation.
Principal investigator Daniel Potter, a plant systematist at the Agricultural Experiment Station and director of the UC Davis Herbarium, said “the alarming rate at which biodiversity is being lost in many tropical regions has resulted in an urgent need for such efforts.”
The grant, “Biodiversity Surveys in
The international team involved in the grant includes UC Davis, UC San Francisco, UC Berkeley and three
Biodiversity refers to all living things in a region and to their interactions of with each other and their surroundings.
The results are expected to aid human health, energy needs, and biodiversity conservation.
The project is sorely needed, said entomologist Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and chair of the Department of Entomology. “For biologists,
The Bohart houses some seven million specimens from throughout the world and is the seventh largest insect museum in
Potter described it as an extraordinary opportunity. "When the call for the International Cooperative Biodiversity Group grant proposals came out in the fall of 2007, several of us involved in management of the biological collections here at UC Davis thought this could be an extraordinary opportunity to initiate a project that would include study of organisms in the multiple taxonomic groups (fungi, bacteria, plants, insects, vertebrates) covered by our collections and to engage in international collaborative research with implications for human health, energy needs, and biodiversity conservation.”
Potter said that two other key participants in the project are his former student, Jeanine Pfeiffer, research director for social sciences at the Earthwatch Institute, and Elizabeth Widjaja, research botanist at Herbarium Bogoriense,
“Thanks to the excellent hard work of many colleagues at UC Davis, UC Berkeley, UC San Francisco, and three Indonesian institutions, and with the wonderful guidance and assistance of the outstanding Interdisciplinary Research Support group in the Office of Research here at UC Davis, we were able to put together a strong proposal for an ambitious and exciting project," Potter said.
UC Davis is the lead institution from the
The project is organized into six associate programs: macro-organism surveys, led by Widjaja, microbial surveys, led by discovery of energy solutions, led by discovery of human health solutions, led by Len Bjeldanes, professor of toxicology, UC Berkeley; conservation research and vertebrate surveys, led by and conservation partnerships, training and ethics, led by Pfeiffer.
“We will also be forming partnerships with private companies aimed at the commercial development of natural products for pharmaceuticals and energy production,” Potter said. They have also lined up collaborators from several other leading research institutions, including the
Potter said the results of the project will make significant contributions to a broad range of issues, including
- knowledge of the patterns of biodiversity in southeast Asia
- identification and isolation of natural products with potential therapeutic value to treat globally important diseases and to address human energy neeeds
- knowledge of the patterns of biodiversity in southeast Asia
- identification and isolation of natural products with potential therapeutic value to treat globally important diseases and to address human energy needs
- development of effective biodiversity conservation strategies and proactive outreach and education programs to promote those strategies
- establishment of models for effective and equitable internatinal collaborative partnerships and ethical and sustainable international sharing of biogenetic resources
the Preclinical Development Group at the Ernest Gallo Clinic and
Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology
Part of the Indonesian team
Butterflies from southeast Asia
It's a sad photo.
The antenna of a honey bee pokes out of an abandoned hive. Victim of colony collapse disorder (CCD)? Perhaps.
Everytime I look at the bent antenna, I think of a plea for help. Help me! Help me! Please help me! This bee should have been nectaring flowers or gathering pollen.
This hive once belonged to entomologists Robert and Lynn Kimsey of UC Davis. She's the director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and chairs the Department of Entomology. He's the sole forensic entomologist in the department.
CCD was one of the topics at the eighth annual international conference of the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign (NAPPC), held Oct. 22-24 in Washington, D.C.
The participants--farmers, scientists, and environmental advocates--agreed that we need to find ways to increase public awareness of pollinators. Pollinator Partnership chair Robert Lang described the loss of pollinators as "a potential health crisis for the planet."
Scores of beekeepers have witnessed a crisis in an individual bee hive.
Like the one below.
(Like to help with the honey bee research at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at the University of California, Davis? Access this site.)
The "headgear" was actually a Giant New Guinea Walking Stick crawling up the face of Eric San Gregorio, an undergraduate student majoring in entomology at UC Davis.
The occasion: the Bohart Museum's "Happy Halloween" open house on Thursday, Oct. 23.
See, the Bohart Musuem at 1124 Academic Surge, UC Davis, not only houses seven million specimens (it's the seventh largest insect museum in North America) but it also showcases live critters--like Madagascar hissing cockroaches, giant spiders and walking sticks.
About the Giant New Guinea Walking Stick (Eurycantha calcarata): it's from the order Phasmatodea and is native to New Guinea. It can grow up to six inches long. It's covered in spines. The males have large spikes on their back femurs while females have a larger abdomen ending in an oviposter, or egg-laying organ.
The walking stick dines on bramble, rose and guava.
It does not dine on little children.
Janice Calvento, 7, of Sacramento loved the honey bees, the honey tasting, the bee observation hive and just about everything else at the open house.
She did not like the walking stick walking up Eric's face.
(Note: an article on the Bohart Museum open house, with photos, will appear in the next edition of the Bohart Museum Society newsletter)
Eric's New Headgear
I'd Rather Not Look At It, Thank You
Hover flies do know how to hover.
Like a helicopter with spinning blades, the hover fly lingers seemingly motionless in mid-air over a flower before zeroing down to feed on the nectar.
Sometimes they’re called flower flies. Sometimes syprhids. They’re from the family Syrphidae and mimic the black-and-yellow coloring of wasps or bees. The coloring protects them from predators. Leave me alone! Let me bee!
Last Sunday our rock purslane (Calandrinia grandiflora) attracted its share of honey bees and hover flies.
In fact, so popular was the rock purslane (which we purchased from Ray and Maria Lopez of El Rancho Nursery and Landscaping,
Instead I focused my macro lens, shot away, and then, for fun, altered the image in Photoshop with “poster edges.”
For a brief period, the hover fly became my poster child.