Address

251 Bessey Hall
Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology
Iowa State University
Ames, IA 50011

Contact

515-294-3121

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©2017 BY TOTH LABORATORY OF INTEGRATIVE INSECT SOCIOBIOLOGY. PROUDLY CREATED WITH WIX.COM

THE TOTH LABORATORY

INTEGRATIVE INSECT SOCIOBIOLOGY

We use an integrative approach, blending ecology, evolution, behavior, physiology, and genomics,
to study insect sociality and pollinator health.

 

RESEARCH

 
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COMPARATIVE GENOMICS OF BEES AND WASPS

The evolution of eusociality from solitary life is considered one of the major transitions in evolution. We study how this transition occurred in Hymenoptera (bees and wasps) using genomic approaches, seeking to answer: 1) What types of genetic changes accompany a major transition in evolution—changes in gene number, sequence, or regulation? 2) Are these changes relatively minor or large-scale? 3) Are there shared, core sets of genes (i.e. a “genetic toolkit”) or are there many genetic avenues to eusocial life?

EVOLUTION AND MECHANISMS OF SOCIAL BEHAVIOR

Animal behavior stems from genetic and environmental influences over the lifetime of an organism. Social bees and wasps are an especially attractive model for studying the roles of genetics, epigenetics, and the social environment in shaping behavior. We study the mechanisms and evolution of several fascinating, complex behaviors such as maternal care, division of labor, aggression, and individual differences in behavior.

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INTEGRATIVE POLLINATOR HEALTH

Both managed honey bees and wild native bees are beneficial insects with a critical role in agricultural pollination. There have been startling declines in bee populations in recent years, linked to habitat loss, increased pathogen pressure, and the availability of floral resources. We are investigating honey bee and wild bee health in the intensively farmed midwestern US, and exploring the potential of prairie habitat to "rescue" bee health.  We are also collaborating with scientists in Argentina on conservation of the giant Patagonian bumble bee.

Want to learn more about our research projects?  Contact us, information below.