Category: Articles

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.


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).

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!


New paper on the immune system of honey bees

By , August 29, 2014

Happy to announce a new publication from the lab on the immune system of honey bees in PLoS ONE. The study explored the genetic relationship between the honey bee’s innate and social immune system. The study was authored by PhD candidate Brock Harpur, with strong contributions from Anna Chernyshova and Arash Soltani – two honours thesis students in my lab (2012). MSc Candidate Nadia Tsvetkov and NSERC USRA students Mohammad and Jack (Zhixing) were instrumental in completing the field-work .

A general summary of the research will follow in a few days…


Population genomics study highlighted by Nature/Middle East

By , February 26, 2014

Happy to announce that a regional portal of the Journal Nature, Nature Middle East, published a Research highlight story on our recent honey bee population genomics study.