about Evans' research (June 2002)
USDA Agency to Honor Bee
Researcher By Jan
February 12, 2003
BELTSVILLE, Md., Feb. 12Molecular geneticist Jay D.
Evans studies of genes that influence honey bee development, pest
resistance, and other traits have led to his being named an Outstanding
Early Career Scientist of 2002" by the Agricultural Research Service, the chief
scientific research agency of the U.S.
Department of Agriculture.
ARS will honor Evans and other award-winning scientists today at
a ceremony at the agencys Henry A.
Wallace Beltsville Agricultural Research Center here. Evans will receive a
plaque and cash award from ARS Acting Administrator Edward B. Knipling.
ARS early career awards recognize the achievements of
scientists who have been with the agency for seven years or less, and earned
their highest academic degree within the past 10 years.
Evans joined ARS
Bee Research Laboratory at
Beltsville in September 1998, and promptly assembled a state-of-the-art
molecular research facility to study his subject, Apis mellifera, whose
crop pollination activity is considered a $14 billion asset to U.S.
Within his first three years at the ARS lab, Evans authored or
co-authored 12 manuscripts, including a paper in the Proceedings of the
National Academy of Sciences that examined the interplay of the hive
environment and genes in determining whether honey bee larvae become queens or
Evans genomics research also extends to honey bee
parasites, insect pests, and pathogens.
Using an approach called molecular phylogenetics, for example,
Evans and colleagues established South Africa as the original source of U.S.
introductions of the small hive beetle, a pest that infiltrates bee hives to
feed on pollen and honey. His development of genetic
markersspecific regions of beetle DNA that distinguish it from
other insectshas given federal and state regulatory agencies an important
surveying tool for tracking the pests U.S. migration.
Evans also devised new DNA sequencing techniques to identify
markers tied to antibiotic resistance in the bacterium Paenibaccillus
larvae, which causes American foulbrood disease. Use of such markers
suggests the bee pathogens antibiotic resistance didnt happen at
one geographic location, but independently at different apiaries across the
Evans lab also is finishing up work to sequence DNA in the
mitochondria, or cellular power plants, of Varroa mites,
parasites that feed on honey bee blood. One aim is to study genetic variation
in the DNA so that the Varroas taxonomic status can be clarified.
Another goal is to develop genetic markers that could be used to track the
Varroas migration patterns, check for re-introductions of the
parasite, or screen mite populations for pesticide resistance.
Evans is a member of the Entomological Society of America, the
International Union for the Study of Social Insects, the American Association
for the Advancement of Science, and the Society for the Study of Evolution. He
also has served on numerous scientific committees, including the Insect
Genomics Planning Session, and the Honey Bee Genome Project Consortium. For the
latter, he helped conceive and write White Paper for a Honey Bee Genome
Project, a consortium proposal thats been accepted by the National
Human Genome Research Institute. There, in the next month or two, scientists
are expected to finish sequencing the entire honey bee genome, an estimated
Evans earned a B.A. degree in biology at Princeton University
in 1988, and his Ph.D. in biology at the University of Utah in 1995. He was a
postdoctoral fellow at the University of Georgias Department of
Entomology from 1996 to 1997, and a postdoctoral research associate at the
University of Arizona for about nine months before joining ARS in 1998.
Evans, a native of Seattle, Wash., resides in Greenbelt, Md.,
with his wife, Francisca, and their two children.