Research Retinue on PolliNation with Andony Melathopoulos

The OSU Research Retinue goes into depth on research papers that have been recently featured in the news. We convened Retinue this week to review a paper that got a fair amount of press over the past few months. Glyphosate is the most widely used herbicides in the world and is regarded as relatively non-toxic to bees and other pollinating insects. A study by Erick Motta and his colleagues from the University of Hawaii at Manoa demonstrate an indirect link between glyphosate and honey bee health in a laboratory study, namely a link to bacteria found in honey bee guts that helps fend off diseases.
This week’s retinue consists of OSU undergraduates Addison DeBoer (Biochemistry and Molecular Biology), Lacey Jane (Zoology), Isabella Messer (Horticulture) and Umayyah Wright (Geography).

Learn more about the recent research studying the effects of glyphosate on honeybees, and how glyphosate can indirectly affect their gut homogenate.

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“Those lactobacillus bacteria are supposed to not be sensitive to the glyphosate, so it’s weird that the single dose would affect them, but when there’s a double dose, there seems to be no change.” – Addison DeBoer

Show Notes:

  • What makes up the microbiome of a honeybee
  • How glyphosate works as an herbicide
  • Why glyphosate indirectly affects bees health
  • How the study was conducted
  • The two different kinds of significant bacteria found in the honeybee gut
  • What could have improved the study
  • How the timing and frequency of applying glyphosate affects honeybees
  • The different ways that science and news outlets are reporting this story

“The bees that had none of the gut homogenate and the bees that have the gut homogenate and glyphosate were affected almost exactly the same, which shows that the effect of glyphosate basically counteracts all of the positive effects of the gut homogenate.” – Addison DeBoer

Links Mentioned:

OSU Research Retinue on PolliNation with Andony Melathopoulos

OSU Research Retinue on PolliNation with Andony Melathopoulos

The OSU Research Retinue reviews a research study that garnered a fair amount of press this month on the connection between lawn mowing frequency and bee abundance and diversity. The study, led by Susannah Lerman from USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station, compared the bees visiting lawns mowed weekly, every two or three weeks. The two year study was published in the May issue of the journal Biological Conservation.

This week’s Research Retinue consisted of OSU undergraduates Addison DeBoer (Biochemistry and Molecular Biology), Matthew Bucy (Environmental Sciences) and Umayyah Wright (Environmental Sciences). Special thanks to Isabella Messer (Horticulture) who helped the group research the paper (check out Isabella’s bee blog entries).

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The OSU Research Retinue (counter-clockwise): Isabella Messer, Matthew Bucy, Umayyah Wright and Addison Deboer.

“I feel the general public won’t have time to read this paper and it would be great to have a simple message summarizing the findings on social media”. – Umayyah Wright

“So, say you are approached by someone – walking on the street – and they heard about the article but have no time to read it what would you tell them the one important take away of this paper?” – Matthew Bucy

“Don’t go for more that three weeks without mowing your lawn because the grass will get too long for the bees, which almost the opposite of the final line of the paper of taking the “lazy lawnmower” approach.  But mowing once a week had more species richness and mowing twice a week had more bee abundance compared to mowing the lawn every three weeks”. – Addison DeBoer

Show Notes:

  • How the study was conducted and what was measured
  • What the study found was best for bee populations in lawn maintenance
  • What key elements are most important in increasing and maintaining pollinator health
  • How researchers can improve the study for next time, and what they got right
  • Why homeowners should consider changing their mowing habits to better suit pollinator health
  • Why this study is very important for busy homeowners
  • What people without lawns can do to help the local pollinator habitat
  • Which is more important: bee richness or bee abundance
  • What the Research Retinue would improve in the next study similar to this one

Links Mentioned:

Doug Sponsler on PolliNation with Andony Melathopoulos

Doug is currently a postdoctoral scholar at Penn State University’s Center for Pollinator Research. He was born and raised in Philadelphia, PA, and he went on to receive his PhD from Ohio State University. His research brings spatial ecology perspectives to the topics of pollinator foraging and toxicology, with particular emphasis on urban plant-pollinator interactions and mechanistic understandings of toxic exposure.

Listen in as we go over pesticide’s effects on pollinators, the difficulties in testing, and the advantages certain insects have in fighting pesticides.

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“It’s a bit ironic that the most convenient organism for which to study toxicology from a logistical perspective, the honey bee, is also the most problematic one for which to interpret toxicology.“ – Doug Sponsler

Show Notes:

  • What determines risk of a pesticide’s effect on pollinators
  • Why toxicity is talked about more than exposure
  • How field experiments on pesticides and pollinators can run into problems
  • How the EPA’s new BeeREX model helps in risk assessment
  • What the “dynamic hazard surface” can explain about the complexity of pesticide testing
  • Why the fully distributional nature of exposure is necessary
  • Why honeybee’s social complexity aids in defending them against pesticides

“[current models for pesticide exposure to bees in risk assessment] are good, but they do not get to the behavioral and chemical mechanics of exposure that go into bringing a bee into intersection with a pesticide.” – Doug Sponsler

Links Mentioned: