Two new reviews published

By , April 8, 2015

Happy to report the publication of two new reviews.

The first is titled Beyond fruit-flies: population genomic advances in non-Drosophila arthropods which just published in Briefings in Functional Genomics. I co-authored this review with Martin Hasselmann (University of Hohenheim, Germany) and Luca Ferretti (Université Pierre et Marie Curie, France). I am a big fan of Martin H.’s work on bee genetics – He and Martin Beye discovered and studied the honey bee’s sex determination gene, csd - and so i was very happy when he asked me to work with him on the review. We review how next generation sequencing has opened the door to answering some long-standing questions about insect evolution and adaptation.

The next review also published last week in Volume 48 of Advances in Insect Physiology. It is titled Population Genomic and Phylogenomic Insights into the Evolution of Physiology and Behaviour in Social Insects, and is co-authored with former-postdoc and now Senior Scientist at the HHMI’s Janelia Farm Campus, Clement Kent. The review focuses on how population genomics is helping us understand how and why social insects came to be(e).

New edited book on Sociogenomics!

By , April 8, 2015

Happy to report the publication of a new volume of Advances in Insect Physiology that i co-edited with Dr. Clement Kent, titled Genomics, Physiology and Behaviour of Social Insects. The book launched last week, and contains ten fantastic (in my slightly humble and obviously very biased opinion!) chapters on genomics-empowered research on the biology of social insects.  Clement and I strived for diversity and so we got honey bees, bumble bees, wasps, ants (ok… partial coverage on the ants) termites, and aphids… oh my! Check out the nice cover and table of contents here and below.AIP 48 front and back

It was a lot of work, but we had a group of fabulous and dedicated authors that really helped with meeting the very tight deadlines… Many of us worked over the December break and new years ; I remember doing some last min. editing on Christmas day, before the turkey!  Clement and I are very proud of the result, and we hope you enjoy it too!

Amro

Anatomy of a pollinator garden

By , March 9, 2015

Some of you know that i love bees. I also generally dislike grass. I don’t like mowing it. I don’t like watering it. I don’t find manicured fields of green grass beautiful.

So, when the snow thawed off the ground – in that first spring in our new home in Woodbridge Ontario in 2010 – my wife and i did something fun… we put a layer of newspaper on our front lawn (neighbours thought we were crazy), put about 2 inches of soil on top of the news paper, and planted several species of hardy native perennials that are attractive to bees, butterflies and birds. I had a lot of help, former postdoc and master gardner Clement Kent provided me with most of the plants (from his garden) and good instructions about how to keep my plants happy.

I was doing a google search on our home and was pleased to see that google maps snapped a nice picture of our pollinator garden in mid bloom last summer. Here is the full list of plants in my garden… in case you want to build your own.

Amro

I spy with my little eye, something that is full of bees

I spy with my little eye, something that is full of bees

Garden with 30+ species of plants, mostly native

Garden with 30+ species of plants, mostly native. See Plant list below… I used pea gravel and some slate stones on the edges.

Plant List
Some of the plants below are not native, but look pretty and still attract pollinators. Some I removed from the garden bed for some reason or another.

1. Violets
2. Amsonia tabernaemontana [blue star]
3. Rudbeckia hirta – Black-eyed Susan
4. Rudbeckia laciniata – Cutleaf Coneflower
5. Wild strawberries (spc ?)
6. Filipendula rubra – Queen of the Prairie
7. Physostegia virginiana [obedient plant]
8. Monarda (bee balm) (purple; red = M. didyma – jacob cline; c = fistulosa blue)
9. Iris versicolor – Northern Blue Flag
10. Veronica longifolia – white speedwell
11. Sanguisorba canadensis – Canadian burnet
12. Baptisia australis – Blue false indigo
13. Penstemon hirsutus – hairy beardtongue
14. Gaillardia aristata – blanketflower
15. Asclepias incarnata – Swamp Milkweed
16. Agastache foeniculum – Golden Anise Hyssop
17. Liatris spicata – gayfeather
18. Helenium hoopesii – orange helenium
19. Echinacea purpurea (2 from C. Kent; 1 bright star, 1 Magnus); purple coneflower
20. Liatris ligulistylis – Meadow Blazingstar
21. Echinacea purpurea ‘baby white swan’
22. Veronica spicata (speedwell – sunny border blue)
23. Creeping thyme (mother of thyme)
24. Sage (spc ?)
25. Tiarella cordifolia – heartleaved foamflower
26. Phlox stolonifera blue ridge – Phlox
27. Oenothera tetragona – sundrops
28. Phlox subulata Emerald blue creeping Phlox
28b. Phlox subulata Emerald pink creeping Phlox
29. Coreopsis verticillata – threadleaf coreopsis golden showers
30. Viola labradorica – Labrador Violet
TT. Tarda Tulips
BR. Sanguinaria canadensis – bloodroot
31. Aster novae-angliae -New England Aster
32. Erigeron speciosus – Showy Fleabane
33. Eupatorium purpureum – Sweet Joe-Pye weed
34. Heliopsis helianthoides
35. Phlox paniculata a.David b. Nicky c. purple flame – Summer Phlox
36. French Lavender (spc. ?)
36a. Pincushion flower Scabiosa pink mist
37. Wolly thyme jeepers creepers thymus pseudolanuginousus
38. Lamium maculatum “white nancy”
39. Hen and chicks Crassulaceae

Upcoming Seminars: Back to Cali & Treehouse!

By , February 3, 2015

Hi Folks,

two seminar next week, in California and Toronto,

1st: I am giving a seminar on bee genomics at the UC Davis’ Department of Entomology and Nematology , Feb 11.

2nd: I am giving a public talk on bees, as part of the Treehouse talks, Friday Feb 13th, 6:30 pm at the Toronto Reference Library.  Title is: Bees are the bee’s knees! [dancing is not optional]

Drop by and say hi!

Amro

The great canadian genome survey hits the road!

By , January 29, 2015

In Moncton New Brunswick! Drop by and see my talk on the great canadian genome survey at the Canadian Honey Council and Canadian Association of Professional Apiculturists’ Research Symposium tomorrow.

Amro, 5'9", Moncton NB Snow Bank 5' 8"

Amro, 5’9″, Moncton NB Snow Bank 5′ 8″

Daria defends her MSc

By , January 29, 2015

Congrats to Daria Molodtsova for successfully defending her MSc thesis on the evolution of regulatory networks that influence honey bee worker behaviour. Daria started her MSc on September 2013. She co-authored the lab’s population genomics study on honey bees in PNAS, and she recently published her MSc thesis in Frontiers in Genetics. Daria is heading back to her motherland (Russia) to purse a career in biotech.

Well done Daria and congrats one the hard-earned MSc!

Upcoming Zayedlab talks in Portland, Markham and Montreal

By , November 15, 2014

A few upcoming talks… come by and say Hi!

November 18th 2o14
Entomological Society of America, Portland, USA  Symposium on: Genetic and Behavioral Mechanisms of Social Complexity: Current Challenges and Future Horizons by Drs  Rehan and Hunt
11 am – Evolution of regulatory networks influencing social behaviour in honey bee workers
Amro Zayed

Nov. 20th, 2014
Ontario Beekeepers Association’s 2014 annual meeting – Markham, Ontario
2:30 pm – Next generation tools for diagnosing & reversing declining bee health
Amro Zayed

Dec. 4th 2014
Rendez-vous Génome Québec, Montreal: The Future of “omics’ Applications
time: TBD , Next generation tools for diagnosing & reversing declining bee health
Amro Zayed

A night full of awards

By , November 15, 2014

Thursday November 13th 2014 was a very memorable day for me

It started on a great note with Nadia successfully defending her MSc thesis and graduating with ‘distinction’. We had a fun little celebration with some honey-inspired treats (including my new favourite… honey goat cheese!). The  lab then took-off to sing the night away at a nearby Karaoke bar (….and yes the rumours are true… i sang Madonna, Toni Braxton and Tracey Chapmen … we all have an #InnerDiva).

I then left the karaoke session early to attend the Faculty of Science‘s 2014 Award Ceremony. The night honours profs, graduate and undergraduate students in the faculty.

I received the Faculty of Science’s Early Career Research Award - a great honour considering the number of super-talented researchers the Faculty boasts. More touching however was the large number of awards that Zayedlab members received – 10

Here they are (in order of announcement)

Brock Harpur (PhD candidate) – Elia Scholarship (Jan – Aug 2014)
Brock Harpur (PhD candidate) – NSERC Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarship  (Sept 2014)
Lior Krimus (Undergraduate) – York U President Honour roll
Lior Krimus (Undergraduate) - NSERC Undergrad summer research scholarship
Vijay Sandhu (Undergraduate) - NSERC Undergrad summer research scholarship
Harshil Patel (Undergraduate) – Queen Elizabeth II Scholarship
Lior Krimus (Undergraduate) – Dean of  Science’s Honour Roll
Harshil Patel (Undergraduate) - Dean of  Science’s Honour Roll
Vijay Sandhu (Undergraduate) - Dean of  Science’s Honour Roll
Keshna Sood (Undergraduate) - Dean of  Science’s Honour Roll

Lior has been working with us since last year on the Great Canadian Honey Bee Genome Survey. He and Vijay teamed up with Brock and Samir (visiting PhD fellow from Brazil) to study the genetics of several honey bee traits this year.  Harshil and Keshna are part of a massive study on the affects of agrochemicals on bee health this summer, a study led by now PhD candidate Nadia Tsvetkov.

I was truly honoured. It is one thing to write papers and get grants – but to see the team get some much accolades was both fantastic and humbling… It is truly a pleasure to get to interact with so many talented and enthusiastic students every day.

To members and almuni of the Zayedlab – thank you!

Amro

The summer 2014 field team: Phil, Harshil, Keshna, Vijay, Lior [L->R]

The summer 2014 field team: Phil, Harshil, Keshna, Vijay, Lior [L->R]

A master of distinction!

By , November 15, 2014

Congratulation to Nadia Tsvetkov for successfully defending her MSc thesis on learning and memory in honey bees. Nadia’s wrote a very nice review on the genetic of learning and memory in honey bees and conducted a very neat study on how social interaction influence learning and memory. She also led the development of a very neat assay to measure spatial memory in honey bees.

Her MSc degree was awarded with distinction (Top 5%).

Nadia has decided to stick around and do her PhD in the Zayedlab… She is currently leading a large scale study on how agrochemicals affect brain gene expression and behaviour of honey bees in Canada.

Congrats Nadia!

Nadia Tsvetkov, MSc

Nadia Tsvetkov, MSc

Samir and his Africanized ‘killer’ bees

By , September 8, 2014

Happy to welcome Samir Moura Kadri, a visiting PhD student from São Paulo State University from Botucatu, Brazil . We are hosting Samir here for the Fall 2014 and Winter 2015 terms to study the genetics of aggression in Africanized ‘Killer’ bees! Africanized bees are very defensive, and Samir studied variation in defensiveness across a large number of colonies in Brazil. He is here to apply genomics to understand the genetics of defensiveness in his colonies.

Here is a picture of Samir and a histogram of a measure of colony defensiveness in his study… the number of stings per minute!… yes, the upper limit is 100+ stings per minute… which is pretty nasty…

Thankfully, it was not 100 stings per minute that Samir actually received; he got the data by swinging a little suede-wrapped ball in front of the colonies… brave man! The range of defensive behaviour is very wide… about an order of magnitude difference between ‘happy go lucky africanized colonies ~ 20 stings per minute’ to ‘super aggressive killer bees – 120 stings per min’… bodes well for the genomic study!

Welcome Samir!
Amro

Samir and his 'killer' bees

Samir and his ‘killer’ bees