We study the ecological and physiological mechanisms that enable organisms to respond to their environment. We focus primarily on the honey bee (Apis mellifera).
Honey bees are a fantastic system for understanding these mechanisms and for applying what is learned. Honey bees are experiencing a period of rapid decline. Poor nutrition is a major factor leading to this decline because areas of rich native vegetation where honey bees can gather food are in shorter supply each day. To improve honey bee nutrition and colony survival it is certainly important to increase the number of these natural foraging sites, but we must also identify other ways of mitigating malnutrition in spite of landscape loss. The causes and consequences of poor nutrition are complex and the solution to this problem requires the intersection of many disciplines.
We take a methodical approach to questions of honey bee nutrition. We first use high-throughput sequence data to identify interesting patterns and to develop testable hypotheses. We then test these hypotheses at the colony and organism level, relying on tools from the worlds of insect physiology, microbiology, genetics, molecular biology, bioinformatics, and evolutionary ecology. Our goals are to gain a deeper understanding of nutrition in honey bees and to develop methods for decreasing colony loss due to poor nutrition.