Backyard Orchard News
Andreas Westphal, UC Assistant Cooperative Extension Specialist in the Department of Nematology at UC Riverside and UC ANR Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center started January 15, 2015. Westphal obtained his first two degrees from the University of Göttingen. He received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Riverside under the supervision of J. Ole Becker. After some postdoctoral experience at UC Davis, and some faculty experience with Texas A&M University and Purdue University, he moved back to Germany. He was recruited by UC after Mike McKenry retired.
Westphal's research program will focus on nematode problems of tree and vine crops. He will explore a multitude of cultural, biological and chemical strategies for managing nematodes in almond, grape, peach, walnut and other crops. Westphal moved here from the Julius Kühn-Institut, Braunschweig, Germany where he researched nematode management on field crops, and was responsible for determining plant resistance to plant-parasitic nematodes in the official cultivar release program.
Andreas Westphal in his nematology lab at Kearney.
Munich-based photographer Volker Steger gave 50 Nobel laureates a large sheet of white paper and assorted crayons and told them "Draw your discovery." Then he photographed them holding their art work. None knew what he was up to.
The result: a traveling exhibition titled "Sketches of Science: Photo Sessions with Nobel Laureates," which the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts at the University of California, Davis displayed at a Jan. 6-28 exhibition.
It was "the first and only planned showing of the exhibition in the United States," according to UC Davis officials.
We especially liked the work of molecular biologist Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard, who drew a realistic Drosophila fly, aka fruit fly. You may remember that Nüsslein-Volhard shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1995 with fellow scientists Eric Wieschaus and Edward B. Lewis, for their research on the genetic control of embryonic development.
Today she lives in Bebenhausen, Germany.
"This is one of the very few female Nobel Laureates," photographer Steger wrote. "She doesnʼt appear to think very highly of my project. She told me 'It would have taken up more of my time to get rid of you than to just do the drawing and the pictures!' (That is the most dubious compliment I have ever got). During the shoot, things get easier. She turns out to be a great woman, with colourful shoes. Her drawing is perfect. It did not surprise me to learn that she illustrates her books herself."
She also has a sense of humor. She recalls she was "determined to study biology, deeply convinced to eventually be a researcher. I had briefly considered studying medicine, because of its relevance to mankind. To find out whether I could be attracted to studying medicine, I did a one month course as a nurse in a hospital. This experience greatly supported my conviction not to become a doctor."
She became a molecular biologist. "I immediately loved working with flies," she wrote in her Nobel Prize biographical sketch. "They fascinated me, and followed me around in my dreams. Basel and the Biozentrum was a very good place to spend one's postdoctoral times. I met Eric Wieschaus who just had finished his thesis in Walter Gehring's lab. His thesis project on the origin of imaginal disc cells in the blastoderm interested me very much. I learned a great deal about the use of genetics to study development in discussions with Eric."
Read more about her fascinating life that led to her Nobel Prize.
Nüsslein-Volhard is an inspiration to all scientists and would-be scientists. (And she draws an incredible fruit fly!)
Extension apiculturist (emeritus) Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, stops to listen to a recording about Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard.
The wait is over.
It's almond pollination season again in California. We spotted a lone almond tree blooming in Benicia on Christmas Day. And on New Year's Day, even more blooms.
No honey bees, though.
If you want to photograph bees on almonds, you have to go where the bees are.
Bees at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, University of California, Davis, got their buzz on today, as they foraged on several almond trees on the grounds of the Department of Entomology and Nematology.
Meanwhile, the buzzword throughout California is "almonds." Some 1.6 million bee colonies are here to pollinate the state's 900,000-plus acres of almonds.
A honey bee peers over an almond blossom on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Cousins: a honey bee and an ant. Both belong to the order Hymenoptera. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Close-up of a honey bee pollinating an almond blossom. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Honey bee heading for the next blossom. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
So you want to create a sustainable landscape in your backyard. You want to create a living landscape that attracts bees, butterflies and birds. You want plenty of pollinators and a plethora of beneficial insects.
How do you do it?
The California Center for Urban Horticulture (CCUH), based at the University of California, Davis, will clue you in at its workshop, "Your Sustainable Backyard: Creating a Living Landscape Workshop," on Saturday, March 28 on the UC Davis campus.
The event, set from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. (come for breakfast at 7:30!), will take place in Room 180 of Medical Sciences Building C in the School of Medicine complex. Registration is now underway and those planning to attend should reserve their space early.
Insect and wildlife habitat is growing scarce in the typical backyard, said Anne Schellman, program manager of CCHU. "Making your garden into a living landscape is an important way to create places of refuge for wildlife while adding biological diversity to your city. The goal of the sustainable gardener is to reduce pesticide use, select plants carefully and provide food and shelter for wild creatures, which helps tie our gardens to the larger landscape around us."
Workshop topics (the speakers and their titles will be announced soon) are:
- Plants that provide refugia for wildlife (refugia is defined as "an area where special environmental circumstances have enabled a species or a community of species to survive after extinction in surrounding areas")
- Not-so-common pollinators
- Cool tools to control garden pests
- Green roof applications
- Attracting birds to your backyard
The cost is $45, which includes parking, a light breakfast, lunch and a special tour of the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre bee friendly garden operated by the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology on Bee Biology Road. It is located next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, west of the central campus. Those attending will also have the opportunity to purchase bee condos or homes for leafcutter bees and blue orchard bees. They are blocks of wood drilled with specific-sized holes.
For more information on the workshop, access the CCUH website or contact Schellman at firstname.lastname@example.org or (530) 752-6642.
The lacewing is a beneficial insect in the garden. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A lady beetle, aka ladybug, will eat aphids and other soft-bodied insects in your garden. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A honey bee, that is.
Research entomologist Jay Evans of the USDA's Agricultural Research Service (USDA/ARS) will discuss "What's It Like Inside a Bee? Genetic Approaches to Honey Bee Health" at the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology seminar from 12:10 to 1 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 4 in 122 Briggs Hall.
The Marin County Beekeepers will host the bee scientist.
"Honey bees are the preferred agricultural pollinators worldwide, and are important natural pollinators in Europe, Asia, and Africa," Evans says. "The European honey bee, Apis mellifera, is both aided and abused by humans, leading to a worldwide distribution on one side, and alarming regional die-offs on the other. Primary causes of honey bee colony death range from inadequate nutrition to stress from chemical exposure and maladies caused by a diverse set of parasites and pathogens."
"Often, domesticated honey bees face two or more stress agents simultaneously. Genetic approaches are being used to determine and mitigate the causes of bee declines. Genetics screens are available for each of the major biotic threats to bees, and screens have been used to determine risk levels for these threats in the field. Thanks to extensive analyses of the honey bee genome, tools are also available to screen bees for heritable traits that enable disease resistance, and to query the expressed genes of bees to infer responses to chemicals and biological stress. This talk will cover genetic insights into honey bee health, disease resistance and susceptibility to chemical insults."
Evans received his undergraduate degree in biology at Princeton and his doctorate in biology from the University of Utah. He did a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Georgia, where he became interested in honey bees. After a brief project on queen production at the University of Arizona, he joined the USDA/ARS as a research entomologist with the USDA-ARS Bee Research Laboratory, Beltsville, MD.
He is especially interested in insect immunity and in the abilities of social insects to evade their many parasites and pathogens. He focuses his projects on a range of bee pests including the American foulbrood bacterium, small hive beetles, nosema, viral pests and varroa mites.
Evans was an early proponent of the Honey Bee Genome Project and helped recruit and organize scientists interested in applied genomics for bees. He has improved and applied genetic screens for possible causes of colony collapse disorder and is now heading a consortium to sequence the genome of the Varroa mite in order to develop novel control methods for this key pest.
Plans call for recording the seminar for later posting on UCTV.
A honey bee necatring on lavender. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)