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Lab News


Gordon Bennett gave an invited seminar @ the University of Nevada Las Vegas, Life Sci. Dept. seminar series. His talk was titled Evolving integrated symbioses between plant-sap feeding insects (Hemiptera) and their beneficial bacterial symbionts. It was fun meeting and chatting about evolution and microbes with the dept.


Allen Kalampukattussery joins the lab as an Undergraduate Researcher.


Phalen Vang presented her research at Undergraduate Research Opportunities Center 2019 Summer Symposium. Her poster was titled Epigenetic Sequencing of Bacterial Microbes in Animals .

June/2/2019 - Aug/2/2019

Phalen Vang was awarded Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship by Undergraduate Research Opportunities Center (UROC).


Heather Stever presented her research at the Maunakea Speaker Series at the University of Hawaii Hilo, HI. Her talk was titled Evolution of an Oddity: an Exploration of the Wekiu Bug's Isolation and Adaptations on Maunakea.


New paper by Meng Mao and Allen Yang titled "Evolution of host support for two ancient bacterial symbionts with differentially degraded genomes in a leafhopper host" was just published in PNAS!

This work shows that the aster leafhopper (Macrosteles quadrilineatus), which depends on two symbionts with tiny genomes (Sulcia and Nasuia), has differentially reprogramed gene-expression patterns in symbiont-associated cells. The aster leafhopper has also acquired novel genetic traits and likely recruited preexisting mitochondrial support mechanisms to meet the specific needs of each symbiont.


New paper by former lab technician and postdoc, Kylle Roy and Curtis Ewing titled "Presence and viability of Ceratocystis lukuohia in ambrosia beetle frass from Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death‐affected Metrosideros polymorpha trees on Hawaiʻi Island" was just published in Forest Pathology!

This work investigated the presence and role of non-native amborsia beetles in releasing Rapid Ohia Death spores into the environment from infected trees


Three new graduate student Rock Stars join the lab: Yumary Vasquez, Heather Stever, and Reo Maynard

Each will be developing projects on the evolution and function of insect-microbe systems


New paper by Gordon and Meng titled "Comparative genomics of a quadripartite symbiosis in a planthopper host reveals the origins and rearranged nutritional responsibilities of anciently diverged bacterial lineages" was just published in Environmental Microbiology!

This work extends our understanding of how bacterial symbioses have evolved in the planthoppers and throughout the Auchenorrhyncha. We were excited to use native Hawaiian insects to address fundamental questions of insect evolution and symbiosis.


Gordon was invited to present his recent work at the at the American Genetics Association President's Symposium in Waimea, HI. His talk was titled: "The >300 million-year history of key innovations and adaptive radiations in plant-sap feeding leafhoppers (Hemiptera: Cicadellidae)"


Meng presented her work at the International Symbiosis Society Meeting in Eugene, OR. Her talk was titled: "Tailored host adaptation to support two ancient bacterial symbionts with differentially degraded genomes in a leafhopper host"


Meng and Gordon present their work at the Yosemite Symbiosis conference in Yosemite National Park, CA


Collaborative perspective paper from UH Manoa C-MAIKI consortium . The project is a large collaborative
effort for UH and other folks to understand the earth's microbiome by leveraging Hawaii as a model


Paper for our Insect-Microbe Interactions class was just published. We are inaugurating the Native Hawaiian Insect Microbiome Initiative [NHIMI] .
Much more to come!


Mike Denis , lab undergraduate researcher, just published a new species description for an endemic Hawaiian leafhopper!! Congrats.

Meet Nesophrosyne melemele found only on Kauai Island.
This picky little species feeds only on the native Naio plant (Myoporum sandwicense).


Lab field trip to Maui Island! Emergent collaboration with Cameron Curry and Researcher, Caitlin Carlson, from Univ. Wisconsin


New paper with lab collaborator, Becky Chong (UT Austin). Project on symbiont gene expression of obligate symbionts in the Glassy-winged sharpshooter (Hemiptera: Cicadellinae: Homalodisca vitripennis)


Meng's Genome Biology and Evolution paper on obligate Treehopper (Membracidae: ENCA) symbionts is now available


Perspective piece on the evolution and adaptation of biocontrol agents with Dr. Mark Wright is now available in Biocontrol


Meng and Gordon present their work at the Animal-Microbe Symbioses Gordon Research Conference in West Dover, Vermont. The symposium was awesome -- looking forward to the next one!


Gordon accepted associate editor appointment for Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution with subject focus on co-evolution


Meng and Allen's mtDNA note on Macrosteles quadrilineatus is now published and available


Kirsten is awarded the EECB Hampton and Meredith Carson Fellowship for her work on comparative genomics of native Hawaiian leafhopper symbionts.


Kirsten is awarded the Tanada Family Fund Fellowship for summer fieldwork.


Meng and Gordon present their work on leafhopper-symbiont co-evolution at the Pacific Bioscience Research Center seminar.


Kylle Roy joins the lab as a research technician. She will be working on Rapid Ohia Death entomology research!


Macrosteles hunting at Sumida Farms in Aiea


Dr. Bennett and Dr. Ewing present invasive species research on Rapid Ohia Death at State Summit hosted by Governor David Ige. Excellent talks by Lisa Keith (USDA ARS), Flint Hughes (USFS), Greg Asner (CAO), and Seve Bergfeld (DoFaW). Our work was featured in several news features.


Dr. Ewing and our ROD work featured in UH News


Great article by Inga Vesper in Science about ROD work with quote from lab researcher, Dr. Ewing


Dr. Bennett presents recent genomic research on nutritional symbionts at ICE 2016 in Orlando, Florida


Kirsten Poff joins the lab as its very first PhD student!


Meng and Allen's first paper from the lab, The complete mitochondrial genome of Entylia carinata (Hemiptera: Membracidae), was accepted in Mitochondrial DNA.


Bennett presents current work on the molecular evolution of sharpshooter symbionts at the Evolution conference in Austin, TX. Also took a moment to visit with the Moran lab!


Bennett presents presents update on Rapid Ohia Death research activities for CGAPS ay HDOA


Our lab organized the Rapid 'Ôhi'a Death Research Symposium host at C-MORE Hale. The symposium was intended to communicate ongoing research to better understand the ecology and biology of ROD. The event was a success due to the excellent presentations! Lab member Curtis Ewing also presented the latest updates!


Curtis Ewing gave a seminar on Rapid Ohia Death and Insect Vectors at Komohana Research Station, Big Island, Hawaii


Pacific Branch of the Entomological Society of America Meeting:

Gordon Bennett presented invited talk on "the evolution of nutritional symbioses in leafhoppers"

Curtis Ewing presented current work on "Rapid 'Ôhi'a Death: Insects associated with infected trees and potential vectors of the causative agent, Ceratocystis fimbriata"


Meng Mao joins the lab as a Junior Researcher! She will begin work on the evolution of microbial symbioses in leafhoppers and kin.


Tom Harrington from Iowa State University at Ames visits the big island. The goal of this trip is to coordinate and advise research efforts on ROD. Curtis and Gordon tour infected sites across the big island with the ROD working group. A day long seminar with Tom assessed current efforts and delineates priority areas for research.


Curtis Ewing joins the lab as a Junior Researcher! He will begin field-work and beetle IDs in an effort to detect insect vectors of Rapid Ohia Death


Our new paper with the McCutcheon lab on decaying genomes in sharpshooter leafhoppers in Genome Biol & Evol was recently published!


New short paper with Simona Abba, Michael Kube, and Christina Marzachi on the obligate symbiont genomes of Macrosteles quadripunctulatus in Genome Announcements


Visit to U.C. Berkeley to hangout with Patrick O'Grady, collect all them left behind Nesophrosyne, and meet with Rosie Gillespie and other Dimensions collaborators


Visit to the big island for ROD project planning. Visited Komohana research station and ROD plots setup by Flint Hughes (Forest Service). Met with Lisa Keith, Wayne Heller, Ishakh Thodi, Flint Hughes, JB Friday, and Curtis Ewing.


Entomology Society of America conference in Minneapolis, MN. Gordon invited to present his recent work on genome evolution in leafhopper symbionts in the "Synergy in Arthropod Genomics: Integrative Solutions to Functional and Evolutionary Biology" symposium The session was graciously organized by Amelia R.I. Lindsey, James D. Ricci, & Eric A. Smith


Accepted as faculty in the Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation Biology Graduate Program. Click link below for program details and seminar schedule


JB Friday Chris Graper (DOFAW), Rob Curtis (HDOA), and Stacey Chun (HDOA) sampled diseased Ohia Trees in Waiakea Timber Management Area. This is a collaborative research effort to investigate the possible role of native and invasive bark beetles in the spread of ROD and Ohia death


Visit to the Big Island with Rob Hauff @ DoFaW to meet all of the folks involved in the Rapid Ohia Death Project. Project planning to identify possible insect vectors of the Ceratocystis fungal pathogen infecting Ohia.


Seeking postdoc for nutritional symbiont genomics and gene expression


New Lab Open. Come and visit at 401 Gilmore


Other News

New Hire! Permanent Research Support Staff, Whitman.

He joined the lab on Nov/1/2018.