Bees have a great sense of smell, which is actually much better than their vision. So, they rely heavily on smell to navigate the world. Recent studies have demonstrated pesticides may alter an insects' ability to process or retain olfactory information, which makes it more challenging for pollinators to maneuver landscapes and locate flowers, nest sites, or mates.
To understand if/how these chemicals disrupt insect olfaction, I am working with Dr. Dennis Mathew to examine impairments from the individual neuron to whole-insect level.
Just like you and me, bees have a gut microbiome. These friendly microbes are important for everything from digestion perhaps even behavior. Microbes are also found in the flowers that bees visit, meaning flowers have a floral microbiome as well. Which microbes are found in flowers can even shape pollinator preference!
My current work explores how agricultural chemicals shape pollinator-associated microbiomes. Specifically, I am studying if combinations of agricultural chemicals have the potential to shape pollinator preference through their effects on floral microbes, and if bee populations differ in their gut microbiome's susceptibility to multiple chemicals.