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Vincent A Ricigliano

Research Entomologist

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My research aims to sustainably improve managed honey bee colony nutrition in the face of landscape homogenization and climate change. My lab employs a variety of divergent approaches in order to achieve this goal with two central foci:

 

1) Characterize the role of honey bee genetic variation in nutritional responses to natural forage and artificial diets.

 

There are potentially thousands of genetic polymorphisms that may result in variations in nutritional biochemistry influencing honey bee health. Contrasts between different genetic stocks of honey bees may lead to the identification of metabolic and physiological phenotypes for breeding bees with improved nutrient efficiency and robustness in a changing global climate. Advances in our understanding of the roles of nutrients in gene and protein expression could also enable the development of genotype-specific nutritional supplements.

 

2) Develop efficacious and sustainable nutritional supplements to support colony growth and disease resistance. Honey bee colonies managed for agricultural pollination are highly dependent on human inputs, especially for disease control and  supplemental nutrition. Hives are routinely fed artificial “pollen substitute” diets to compensate for insufficient nutritional forage in the environment. Optimization of bee nutrition supplements can improve feed sustainability and agricultural pollination efficiency by supporting larger, healthier honey bee colonies.

 

We are also developing novel functional genomics tools to advance our understanding of the role of bee genetics in health and disease.