My research aims to improve honey bee health and productivity in the face of various interacting stressors such as climate change, malnutrition, and pathogens. We use a variety of different approaches to achieve this goal with two central foci:
1. Characterize the role of honey bee genetic variation in nutritional responses to regional forage landscapes 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.
1. 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 recently developed feed-based biotherapeutics that can improve individual bee health characteristics. Using bioengineering technologies, we generated microalgae strains that can stimulate the honey bee immune system, effectively functioning as an edible vaccine against pathogens associated with colony losses. Algae growth is highly scalable and can be done on non-arable land. Further, algae biomass production can soak up one ton of CO2 per hectare, making it a promising carbon-negative alternative to existing agrochemicals that are applied to bee hives. This approach is versatile in its applicability to improve resistance against current and emerging pathogens in managed bees.
My lab is also developing novel functional genomics tools to better understand the role of genetics in honey bee health and disease.
Mcmenamin, A., Weiss, M., Meikle, W.G., Ricigliano, V.A. 2023. Efficacy of a microalgal feed additive in commercial honey bee colonies used for crop pollination. ACS Agricultural Science and Technology. https://doi.org/10.1021/acsagscitech.3c00082.
Meikle, W.G., Corby-Harris, V.L., Ricigliano, V.A., Snyder, L.A., Weiss, M. 2023. Cold storage as part of a Varroa management strategy: Effects on honey bee colony performance, mite levels and stress biomarkers. Scientific Reports. 13. Article 11842. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-023-39095-5.
Nichols, B.J., Ricigliano, V.A. 2022. Uses and benefits of algae as a nutritional supplement for honey bees. Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems. 6:1005058. https://doi.org/10.3389/fsufs.2022.1005058.
Ricigliano, V.A., Cank, K.B., Todd, D.A., Knowles, S.L., Oberlies, N.H. 2022. Metabolomics-guided comparison of pollen and microalgae-based artificial diets in honey bees. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.jafc.2c02583.
Anderson, K.E., Ricigliano, V.A., Copeland, D., Mott, B.M., Maes, P. 2022. Social Interaction is Unnecessary for Hindgut Microbiome Transmission in Honey Bees: The Effect of Diet and Social Exposure on Tissue-Specific Microbiome Assembly. Microbial Ecology. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00248-022-02025-5.
Ricigliano, V.A., Williams, S.T., Oliver, R. 2022. Effects of different artificial diets on commercial honey bee colony performance, health biomarkers, and gut microbiota. BMC Veterinary Research. 18(52):1-14. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12917-022-03151-5.
Ricigliano, V.A., Ihle, K.E., Williams, S.T. 2021. Nutrigenetic comparison of two Varroa-resistant honey bee stocks fed pollen and spirulina microalgae. Apidologie. 1-14. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13592-021-00877-3.
Ricigliano, V.A., Dong, C., Richardson, L.T., Donnarummar, F., Williams, S.T., Solouki, T., Murrary, K.K. 2020. Honey bee proteome responses to plant and cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) diets. ACS Food Science and Technology. 1:1-10. https://doi.org/10.1021/acsfoodscitech.0c00001.
Ricigliano, V.A., Sica, V.P., Knowels, S.L., Diette, N., Howarth, D.G., Oberlies, N.K. 2020. Bioactive diterpenoid metabolism and cytotoxic activities of genetically transformed Euphorbia lathyris roots. Phytochemistry. 179:1-9. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.phytochem.2020.112504.
Ricigliano, V.A., Anderson, K.E. 2020. Probing the honey bee diet-microbiota-host axis using pollen restriction and organic acid feeding. Insects. 11(5):1-14. https://doi.org/10.3390/insects11050291.
Saelao, P., Borba, R.S., Ricigliano, V.A., Spivak, M., Simone-Finstrom, M. 2020. Honey bee microbiome is stabilized in the presence of propolis. 2020. Biology Letters. 16:1-5. https://doi.org/10.1098/rsbl.2020.0003.
Ricigliano, V.A., Simone-Finstrom, M. 2020. Nutritional and prebiotic efficacy of the microalga Arthrospira platensis (spirulina) in honey bees. Apidologie. 51(2)1-13. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13592-020-00770-5.
Ricigliano, V.A. Microalgae as a promising and sustainable nutrition source for managed honey bees. Archives of Insect Biochemistry and Physiology. 1-8. https://doi.org/10.1002/arch.21658.
Lopez-Uribe, M., Ricigliano, V.A., Simone-Finstrom, M. 2020. Defining pollinator health: assessing bee ecological, genetic and physiological factors at the individual, colony and population levels. Annual Review of Animal Biosciences. 8:296.
Ricigliano, V.A., Mott, B.M., Maes, P., Floyd, A.S., Fitz, W., Copeland, D.C., Meikle, W.G., Anderson, K.E. 2019. Honey bee colony performance and health are enhanced by apiary proximity to US Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) lands. Scientific Reports. 9:4894. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-41281-3.
Ricigliano, V.A., Mott, B.M., Floyd, A.S., Copeland, D.C., Carroll, M.J., Anderson, K.E. 2018. Honey bees overwintering in a southern climate: longitudinal effects of diet and queen age on colony-level molecular physiology and performance. Scientific Reports. https://doi:10.1038/s41598-018-28732-z.
Ricigliano, V.A., Fitz, W., Copeland, D.C., Mott, B.M., Maes, P., Floyd, A.S., Dockstader, A., Anderson, K.E. 2017. The impact of pollen consumption on honey bee digestive physiology and carbohydrate metabolism. Archives of Insect Biochemistry and Physiology. https://doi.org/10.1002/arch.21406.
Anderson, K.E., Ricigliano, V.A. 2017. Honey bee gut dysbiosis: a novel context for disease ecology. Current Opinion in Insect Science. doi: 10.1016/j.cois.2017.05.020.
Using Genetics to Improve the Breeding and Health of Honey Bees In-House Appropriated (D) Accession Number:437823 Microalgae as a Novel Platform to Improve Honey Bee Nutrition, Microbiome Health, and Pathogen Resistance Interagency Reimbursable Agreement (I) Accession Number:439554 Understanding Host-Microbiota Interactions to Improve Honey Bee Health Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement (S) Accession Number:440185 Identifying Pollen Phagostimulants via Metabolomics to Improve Artificial Diet Palatability and Effectiveness Trust Fund Cooperative Agreement (T) Accession Number:443423 Harnessing Fungal Natural Products for Scalable and Sustainable Honey Bee Antiviral Therapeutics Trust Fund Cooperative Agreement (T) Accession Number:445396