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Vanessa Louise Corby-Harris

Research Physiologist

Vanessa Corby-Harris


The common goal uniting my research is to understand the ecological and physiological mechanisms that enable organisms to respond to their environment. Honey bees are a fantastic study system for understanding such mechanisms and for applying what is learned because their populations are experiencing a period of rapid decline. Poor nutrition is a major factor underlying honey bee colony losses and areas of rich native vegetation where honey bees can forage are in shorter supply every 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 methods to mitigate malnutrition in spite of landscape fragmentation and loss. The causes and consequences of poor nutrition are very complex and it is becoming clear that the solutions to these problems will require the intersection of many approaches. I use a diverse set of tools from the worlds of insect physiology, genomics, microbiology, molecular biology, and evolutionary ecology to study nutritional stress in honey bees. Some of my most recent projects are centered on how nutritional stress at early life stages impacts aspects of colony performance such as nursing ability and immunity and how the bacteria naturally found in the hive and passed through feeding behaviors impact larval and whole colony health. Other than gaining a deeper understanding of nutrition in honey bees, my hope is to translate what is learned from these projects into methods that increase colony health and buffer bee populations against environmental stressors.




  1. Vanessa Corby-Harris, Kristin E. Habel, Fatima G. Ali, and Daniel E. L. Promislow. 2007. Alternative measures of resistance to Pseudomonas aeruginosa infection in Drosophila melanogaster. Journal of Evolutionary Biology. 20:526-533.
  2. Joep M.S. Burger, Dae Sung Hwangbo, Vanessa Corby-Harris, and Daniel E. L. Promislow. 2007. The functional costs and benefits of dietary restriction in Drosophila.Aging Cell. 6:63-71.
  3. Vanessa Corby-Harris, Ana Clara Pontaroli, Lawrence J. Shimkets, Jeffrey L. Bennetzen, Kristin E. Habel,and Daniel E.L. Promislow. 2007. The geographical distribution and diversity of bacteria in natural populations of Drosophila melanogaster. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 73(11):3470-3479.
  4. Chih-Horng Kuo, Vanessa Corby-Harris, and Daniel E. L. Promislow. 2008. The unavoidable costs and unexpected benefits of parasitism: population and metapopulation models of parasite-mediated competition. Journal of Theoretical Biology. 250(2):244-56.
  5. Vanessa Corby-Harris and Daniel E. L. Promislow. 2008. Host ecology shapes geographic variation for resistance to bacterial infection in Drosophilamelanogaster. Journal of Animal Ecology. 77(4):768-76.
  6. Teresa Joy, Anam Arik, Vanessa Corby-Harris, Adiv Johnson and Michael A. Riehle. 2010. The impact of larval and adult caloric restriction on lifespan, reproduction and growth in the mosquito Aedes aegypti. Experimental Gerontology. 45(9):685-690.
  7. Vanessa Corby-Harris, Anna Drexler, Laurel Watkins de Jong, Yevgeniya Antonova, Nazzy Pakpour, Rolf Zeigler, Frank Ramberg, Jessica M. Brown, Shirley Luckhart and Michael A. Riehle. 2011. Activation of Akt signaling reduces the prevalence and intensity of malaria parasite infection and lifespan in Anopheles stephensi mosquitoes. PLoS Pathogens 6(7): e1001003.
  8. Nazzy Pakpour, Vanessa Corby-Harris, Gabriel P. Green, Hannah M. Smithers, Kong W. Cheung, Michael A. Riehle and Shirley Luckhart. 2012. Ingested human insulin inhibits the mosquito NF-?B-dependent immune response to Plasmodium falciparum. Infection and Immunity. 80(6):2141-2149.
  9. Kirk E. Anderson, Timothy H. Sheehan, Brendon M. Mott, Patrick Maes, Lucy Snyder, Melissa R. Schwan, Alexander Walton, Beryl M. Jones, and Vanessa Corby-Harris. 2013. Microbial ecology of the pollination landscape: Bacterial associates from floral nectar, the alimentary tract and stored food of honey bees (Apis mellifera).PLoS One. 8(12): e83125.
  10. Kirk E. Anderson, Andreas Johansson, Tim H. Sheehan, Brendon M. Mott, Vanessa Corby-Harris, Laurel Johnstone, Ryan Sprissler, William Fitz. 2013. Draft genome sequences of twoBifidobacteriumsp. from the honey bee (Apis mellifera). Gut Pathogens. 5(42).
  11. Vanessa Corby-Harris, Beryl M. Jones, Alexander Walton, Melissa R. Schwan and Kirk E. Anderson. Transcriptional markers of aging and sub-optimal nutrition in developing Apis mellifera nurse workers. BMC Genomics. 15(134).
  12. Vanessa Corby-Harris, Patrick Maes, and Kirk E. Anderson. The bacterial communities associated with honey bee (Apis mellifera) foragers. PLoS One. 9(4): e95056.
  13. Vanessa Corby-Harris, Melissa R. Schwan, Lucy Snyder, Patrick Maes and Kirk E. Anderson. Origin and effect of Acetobacteraceae Alpha 2.2 in honey bee larvae and description of Parasaccharibacter apium, gen. nov., sp. nov. Submitted.