The Vannette lab is a team of entomologists, microbiologists, chemical ecologists, and community ecologists trying to understand how microbial communities affect plants and insects (sometimes other organisms too). We often study microbial communities in flowers, on insects or in soil. We rely on natural history observations, and use techniques from chemical ecology, microbial ecology and community ecology. In some cases, we study applied problems in agriculture with an immediate application (e.g. pathogen control). Other questions may not have an immediate application but are nonetheless grounded in theory and will contribute to basic knowledge and conservation (e.g. how can dispersal differences among organisms affect patterns of abundance or biodiversity?).
June 2020: Amber Crowley-Gall and Marshall McMunn receive USDA NIFA Postdoctoral Fellowships to begin independent projects in the lab. Congrats to both Amber and Marshall! Amber will work on Erwinia, volatile cues and pollinator preference. Marshall will work on sunflowers and microbial effects on nectar quality via trait plasticity.
April 2020: Allie Igwe is awarded a prestigious NSF Postdoctoral Fellowship to work on soil microbial communities and develop novel online tools to increase interest in ecology. Congrats Allie!
2/10/20: Rachel participated as a lecturer in the Chemical Communication Winterschool in Ede, Netherlands. It was a great experience with excellent students, organizers and co-lecturers.
1/10/20: Paper on microbial community assembly and function in nectar published in FEMS Microbiology Ecology with first author Megan Morris, lab alum who recently started new job at LBL.
12/11/19: Lab members participate in the annual “Favorite papers of 2019, insect ecology edition”
10/19: Lab hires Tobias Mueller as new Junior specialist. Welcome Tobias!
7/17/19: Vannette lab attends the International Pollinator Conference! Check out Danielle’s poster on bumble bees and yeasts; Megan’s poster on bacteria and pollen, and Rachel (V) talks about hummingbird gut microbes.
7/10/19: The National Science Foundation funds Rachel’s CAREER grant on “Nectar chemistry and ecological and evolutionary tradeoffs in plant adaptation to microbes and pollinators”. We are excited to investigate why plant species vary in microbial growth in flowers, and its causes and consequences
6/23/19: Rachel moderates and speaks in ASM Microbe session on Rules and Randomness in microbial community assembly
6/10/19: Rachel returns from a fun and productive ISCE meeting in Atlanta.
5/31/19: Graduate and undergraduate students earn fellowship awards this quarter: Maddie earns a Provost’s Undergraduate Fellowship; Allie and Meg are supported by the Davis Botanical Society and Danielle is supported by the Vansell Award for the study of bees (and their microbes, of course). Thanks to these organizations for the financial support!
5/17/19: Welcome Amber Crowley-Gall as a postdoc in the lab! We are excited for you join the lab and bring your expertise in insect olfaction to the almond project.
3/6/19: Study on hummingbird microbes published in Proceedings B. Congrats to Casie Lee!
2/27/19: Megan Christensen joins the lab as a new PhD student through MGG! She will study microbial interactions with pollen.
2/20/19: Preprint posted on how microbial metabolites are detected by and influence bumble bees. Great work Robert, Caitlin and Isabelle!
1/4/19: Page on our Epilobium canum work added. Check it out, and watch for more updates someday.
12/14/18: Insect Ecology Joint lab meeting chooses our “top papers of the year”
12/7/19: Preprint posted on rhizosphere microbes in serpentine indifferent plants. Great work Allie!
8/5/18: Vannette lab does ESA in New Orleans:
Monday: Rachel on nectar microbes and volatiles at 3:20 pm in Plant-Animal Interactions I
Tuesday: Allie on plant-microbe interactions in serpentine soils at 9:20 am in OOS 10
Wednesday: Robert on using priority effects to improve biocontrol of floral pathogens, 8:20 am in Disease & Epidemiology
7/5/18: Visit by Fukami lab and friends to develop some MALDI-TOF methods and build the library!
6/25/18: New Junior specialist Ivan Munkres starts in the lab. Welcome Ivan!
4/25/18: The Vannette lab, with PIs Beck, Lindow and Schaeffer, receive funding from the California Pear Board to work on microbial antagonists of Erwinia.
4/9/18: We are very excited to welcome Danielle Rutkowski as a new PhD student interested in plant-microbe-insect interactions, who will begin fall 2018! Congrats to Danielle on receiving the prestigious Cota-Robles Fellowship and an honorable mention on the NSF-GRFP!
4/9/18 We are very excited to welcome Marshall McMunn as an NSF postdoctoral scholar studying ant gut microbiomes, coadvised with Stacy Philpott at UCSC.
2/19/18 Paper “Contrasting effects of yeast and bacteria on floral nectar traits” accepted to Annals of Botany.
1/16/18 Lab alum Griffin Hall shares some of his travel adventures and experiments with natural coffee processing in Guatemala.
12/14/17 Allie Igwe and Megan Morris pass their Qualifying Exams! Huge congratulations to both of them on advancement to candidacy and on great project proposals!!
11/24/17 Lab gains its new (youngest) member!
11/4/17 John’s last day in the lab. We wish him the best with his new job in biotech!
10/4/17 Griffin’s last day in the lab. We will miss him and his expertise, but are excited to follow his next adventures!
9/28/17 First day of ABI 50A! We are excited to welcome a new cohort of incoming students to study the floral visitors and floral traits of Epilobium canum.
9/27/17 First day of classes. Vannette lab is excited to partner with Jonathan Eisen, Ashley Vater and David Coil on a new Freshman research seminar called “The Nectar Microbiome – for the Birds and the Bees.”
8/23/17 Megan Morris, a JDPE student in the Dinsdale and Vannette labs, was just awarded a ARCS fellowship to support her graduate work. Congrats Megan!
8/21/17 Paper on microbial volatiles and pollination accepted for publication in New Phytologist! We are very excited about this product from the collaboration between the Vannette lab at UC Davis and Beck lab at USDA-ARS! Link to New Phytologist website; Full text
8//20/17 Caitlin Rering presents at the American Chemical Society meeting in Washington DC on “Do volatiles produced by nectar-dwelling microbes affect honey bee preferences?” She is also a finalist for the New Investigator Award. Congrats, Caitlin!
8/5/17 We are excited to head to the Ecological Society of America meeting in Portland! Don’t miss the OOS on the extended phenotype of microbes (organized with Stephanie Porter). And check out the Vannette lab talks (or co-authored talks) this year:
Ash Zemenick on how floral visitor networks shape microbial composition on flowers, Wednesday Aug 9 in Plant-Insect Interactions II
7/18/17 Vannette lab is recruiting! Seeking 1-2 graduate students to study the ecology or chemistry of plant-microbe-insect interactions, to start in summer or fall of 2018. Topic areas are flexible, and funding is available through the Entomology graduate group. See the ‘Join the lab’ page for more details and please email Rachel if you are interested.
6/20/17 Ants decrease pollinator visitation and change floral microbial communities in coffee agroecosystems. Paper just out LINK
6/9/17 Early view of paper in Ecology Letters, showing that contrary to the majority of published work, increased dispersal can increase beta diversity in floral microbial communities. See Publications page for links and media coverage.
6/7/17 Aidee Guzman from the Kremen lab at Berkeley visits the Vannette lab to analyze nectar sugars.
3/28/17 Wendy Melendez presents her poster on how carpenter bee robbing affects nectar microbial communities in Epilobium at the UCD Undergraduate Research Conference. Congrats, Wendy!
3/26/17 Allie receives an NRS grant to fund part of her dissertation work on rhizosphere microorganisms in serpentine soils.
3/4/17 Paper documenting positive effects of dispersal on beta diversity in nectar microbe communities, with Tad Fukami, accepted to Ecology Letters!
3/4/17 Tess Grainger visits the lab and shares her research at the Insect Ecology meeting
2/12/17 Paper on ant effects on coffee flower microbiome with collaborator Stacy Philpott accepted to Basic and Applied Ecology!
2/12/17 Almond bloom is nearly upon us: we are looking forward to getting in the orchards to sample microbes.
2/10/17 Mark your calendar: The ESA session on the “extended phenotype of microbes”, organized by Rachel Vannette and Stephanie Porter, is scheduled for the afternoon of Wednesday, Aug 9. We are looking forward to this organized oral session.
Winter quarter 2017: Rachel teaches Chemical Ecology CRN # 23499
12/13/16 The Vannette Lab and friends discuss our picks for ‘Best paper of the year’. Partial list here
12/5/16 Students in ABI50A present their research on interactions between hummingbirds, bees and Epilobium flowers. Great job, students!
11/5/16 Perspective paper on microbial volatiles in plant-insect interactions with collaborator and coauthor John Beck is published in Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (and chosen as an Editor’s choice!)
10/27/16 Rachel presents on community and chemical ecology of nectar microbes at the HMI Host-microbe interaction meeting at Granlibakken.
9/1/16 Collaborator Robert Schaeffer has been funded by the USDA for his postdoctoral work on nectar-inhabiting yeasts in almond agroecosystems! He will spend part of his time in the Vannette lab. We are excited to continue working with him.
8/8/16-8/12/16 Rachel attends a workshop on teaching metagenomics by Liz Dinsdale, with help by talented grad students, including Megan Morris. We had fun sequencing bee-associated microbial communities, among many others!
5/19/16 Amin, a high school student from Davis Senior High, presents his work on among-plant variation in the abundance of nectar-inhabiting microorganisms at the Biotechnology Poster session. Congrats!
5/16/16 Allie receives a NRS research grant to support her work on plant-microbe interactions in serpentine systems! Congrats!
5/7/16 Rachel presents at the 2016 Bee Symposium, put on by the UC Davis Honey and Pollination center.
3/25/16 Paper on biogeography of plant-associated fungi in Hawaiian kipuka, accepted to Ecology!
3/25/16 Rachel visits University of Louisville to give a talk; thanks to Chris and the Frost lab/family for hosting!
3/15/16 Paper on nectar microbes and secondary compounds in nectar published as a preprint in Ecology!
2/3/16 Rachel presents at the Gordon Research Conference on Plant Volatiles: Effects of nectar microbes on floral rewards and attraction.
1/25/16 Paper on nectar microbes and secondary compounds in nectar accepted to Ecology! Watch for a summary when the preprint is released.
12/4/15 Allie presents VOC data from her rotation in the Vannette lab to the Microbiology Group.
11/9/15 New paper out today! We found that forager bees highly express genes related to antimicrobial activity, immune signaling, and detoxification in nectar-processing tissues. Check out the article here and news coverage here.
11/5/15 Co-authored paper out today, led by Rob Schaeffer! Spatial and temporal variation in nectar-inhabiting yeast abundance in Delphinium nuttallianum and effects on nectar chemistry. Check out the article here.
If you are interested in joining the lab, please see more details here.
43 Briggs Hall (Basement)
Davis, CA 95616
rlvannette at ucdavis dot edu
Office phone: 530-752-3379
Lab phone: 530-752-4317