Bees have a great sense of smell, which they rely on heavily to navigate the world. Recent studies have demonstrated pesticides may alter an insects' ability to process olfactory (or smell-based) information, making it challenging to locate flowers, nest sites, or mates.
In a recent paper with Dr. Dennis Mathew, we examined how a neonicotinoid pesticide alters insect olfaction in the well-studied Drosophila melanogaster system. We found these pesticides caused disruptions in the activity of an individual olfactory neuron as well as disruptions to olfactory-guided behavior in this insect.
Just like you and me, bees have a gut microbiome. These microbes are important for everything from digestion to even behaviors. Microbes can also be found in the flowers that bees visit, meaning flowers have a floral microbiome as well. Which microbes are found in flowers can even shape which flowers pollinator prefer to visit.
My current work explores how agricultural chemicals shape pollinator-associated microbiomes. Specifically, I ask if different bee populations also differ in their sensitivity to multiple chemicals and what role the microbiome plays in that sensitivity, if any. In a separate project, I am assessing the impact of multiple agricultural chemicals on microbes commonly found in floral nectar.