Category: Articles

Similar social behaviour, Similar Genes?

By , July 10, 2018

Happy to report the publication of a new paper from the lab, in collaboration with Drs. Amy Toth (Iowa State) and Laura Beani (Università di Firenze). The paper was led by PhD Candidate Katie Dogantzis, and involved generating new population genomics data for paper wasps and comparing the data to honey bees and bumblebees.  We found that paper wasps and bumblebees have more in common, relative to paper wasps than honeybees, when it comes to adaptive changes in protein coding genes.

Congrats Katie!

Dogantzis, K.A., Harpur, B.A., Rodriques, A., Beani, L., Toth, A.L. and Zayed, A. (2018). Insects with similar social complexity show convergent patterns of adaptive molecular evolution. Nature Scientific Reports. 8:10388. DOI:10.1038/s41598-018-28489-5 [link]

New Paper – NNIs and the poisoned oasis!

By , July 9, 2018

Check out this new perspective by PhD student Nadia Tsvetkov on the consequences of neonicotinoid spillover on honey bees, recently published by TheScienceBreaker

https://www.thesciencebreaker.org/breaks/earth-space/the-poisoned-oasis-neonicotinoid-spillover-harms-bees-near-corn

New paper out with…. MayB!!!!!

By , June 7, 2018

It always feels good when I get to work with some of my text book heros – the accomplished scientists that you read and idolize at different stages of your academic career.  So, when Dr. May Berenbaum [National Academy Member/Department Heat of Illinois’ Entomology/National Medal of Science winner… i like to say that former President Obama got his photo taken with May] emailed me a year ago to collaborate, i said ‘yes’ immediately! (i also went around telling everyone within a 30 m radius that we were going to be working with MayB!)

The resulting analysis was just published in Insectes Sociaux. Its a fun little paper about how social bees, who have an extreme pollen- and nectar-rich diet have evolved to cope with some of the nasty chemicals that plants use against herbivorous insects

  1. Johnson, R.M., Harpur, B.A., Dogantzis, K., Zayed, A., and Berenbaum, M.R. (2018). Genomic footprint of evolution of eusocilaity in bees: floral food use and CYPome “blooms”. Insectes Sociaux. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00040-018-0631-x [link]

New paper on pesticides and honey bees

By , July 4, 2017

Greetings all,
Our paper on honey bee health near corn crops was published last week in the journal Science. The study was funded by the Government of Ontario. The research team included collaborators from Laval led by Dr. Valérie Fournier, and several zayedlab undergrads that worked with Nadia on this large project.

While normally i would write a little summary, a lot of our findings have been summarized in the news, so you can read about the study at Nature News, Forbes, NPR, AAAS, Metro,LA Times, The Scientist, New Scientist, Washington Post, Radio Canada International, BBC News, The Guardian, The Star, Vice, Scientific American. Also check out the Editor’s Summary, and  Dr. Jeremy Kerr (U. Ottawa)’s Op Ed Story.

The paper can be accessed using the link below.

Tsvetkov, N., Samson-Robert, O., Sood, K., Patel, H.S., Malena, D.A., Gajiwala, P.H., Maciukiewicz, P., Fournier, V., Zayed, A. (2017). Chronic exposure to neonicotinoids reduces honeybee health near corn crops. Science. 356:1395-1397. [link]

New paper – African bee genomes and SNPs

By , December 7, 2016

Happy to report on a recent paper from the lab; Visiting PhD student Samir Kadri and YorkU PhD student Brock Harpur worked together to sequence and discover mutations in Brazilian Africanized honey bee genomes. The work was recently published as an open access article in Scientific Data. Also check out this y-file story on the research. Congrats Samir and Brock!

Samir and his 'killer' bees

Samir and his ‘killer’ bees

 

Brock Harpur

Brock Harpur

Dud males, biological invasions, natural selection, Oh My!

By , November 7, 2016

Check out my Nature News and Views story on a very cool study on invasive Asian honey bees in Australia.

New paper on bee conservation ‘omics

By , October 17, 2016

Jeff Lozier and I have a perspective out on bee conservation genomics – check it out in Conservation Genetics. Yay, my first paper with Jeff! Was a fun experience.

Amro

Science: Bee genomes take flight!

By , May 20, 2015

The bee community’s answer to the 12 fruit fly genomes…. The 10 bee genomes…. all the ACGT’s plus methylation and very cool social behaviour… take that Drosophila!  🙂 [who has Drosophila envy —> me]

My former postdoc Dr. Clement Kent and I were part of a large international effort, spearheaded by the Karen Kapheim and Gene Robinson from the University of Illinois, to sequence and study the genomes of 10 bee species that vary in terms of their social organization. The study was published in the journal Science last week. Our role was to study patterns of molecular evolution as a function of social organization and genome structure.

It was a lot of fun! The added bonus (in addition to a paper in Science) is that i am now a co-author with 50+ of my favourite bee researchers from around the world… Neat!

Anyways, check out the nice little write up on the article by TheScientist’s Ruth Williams

 

A new test for ‘killer bees’

By , May 20, 2015

Happy to report that we played an important role in an international effort to develop a new diagnostic test for africanized ‘killer’ bees. Africanized bees invaded the southern US where Canadian beekeepers like to import queen bees. Older tests for telling if a bee is africanized or not are not reliable. We worked closely with Nadine Chapman and Ben Oldroyd from the University of Sydney’s famed social insect lab to develop a very accurate genetic  test. PhD candidate Brock Harpur used our database of over 12 million mutations in the honey bee  to pick diagnostic mutations that differ between African and European bees.

The study was recently published online in Molecular Ecology Resources. Also see the York U and UoSydney press releases too!

Chapman, N.C., Harpur, B.A., Lim, J., Rinderer, T.E., Allsopp, M.H., Zayed, A., Oldroyd, B.P. (2015) A SNP test to identify Africanized honey bees via proportion of ‘African’ ancestry. Molecular Ecology Resources. DOI: 10.1111/1755-0998.12411

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).