Welcome to the Vannette lab


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  with an immediate application including pathogen control or how to support pollinators. 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?).

Lab news

September 2021: Rachel gives a talk as the Hagedorn speaker for the Entomology and Insect Science Graduate Interdisciplinary Program at the University of Arizona. Thanks graduate students for the invitation!

July 2021: The complete special issue on plant-pollinator-microbe interactions in Current Opinions in Insect Science, co-organized by Rachel and Robert Junker, is now complete and online, including our editorial. Check it out!

June 2021: Jacob Francis is awarded an NSF PRFB to study secondary metabolites in nectar, and their consequences for microbes and pollinators. We are excited to continue work with him! Congrats Jake F!

June 2021: Jacob Cecala, a recent grad from the Wilson Rankin lab at UCR, is awarded a USDA NIFA Postdoctoral Fellowship to study effects of water availability and pesticide use on bees and bee-microbe associations. We are excited for him to join the lab in the fall. Congrats Jake C!

June 2021: The quarter ends and field work is in full swing! Various projects are in full force by Shawn and Marshall at Stebbins Cold Canyon Reserve, by Shawn, Rachel and collaborators at Bodega Bay Marine Reserve, and we’re gearing up for work in the Sierra, including at Sagehen Creek Field Station in work led by Jake Francis.

May 2021: Shawn is awarded a NRS research fellowship for work at Stebbins Cold Canyon Reserve. Congrats Shawn!

March 2021: Rachel gives an invited (virtual) seminar at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology. Thanks for the invitation Jonathan Gershenzon!

March 2021: Rachel gives an invited (virtual) seminar at the University of Cinncinati. Thanks for the invitation Stephanie Rollman and lab!

February 2021: Rachel gives and invited (virtual) seminar at the University of Pittsburgh. Thanks for the invitation Tia-Lynn Ashman and lab!

January 2021: Insect Ecology group at UC Davis chooses favorite papers of 2020 or go to the archives for our picks from 2019, 2018, or 2016

January 2021: New preprints posted: 1) Shawn’s work finding that Acinetobacter germinates (and eats) pollen, and two agricultural flower microbiome papers: 2) management effects  microbiome composition in almond flowers  and 3) management and landscape composition affect  microbiome of pear flowers

Fall 2020: Danielle Rutkowski and Shawn Christensen both pass the QE and advance to candidacy. Congrats you two.

10/30/20 Rachel gives an invited (virtual) seminar to the University of Colorado Denver. Thanks for the invitation Sara Branco!

10/16/20 Rachel gives an invited (virtual) seminar for the Microbiology group at Autonomous University of Querétaro. Excellent discussion. Thanks for the invitation, Etzel Garrido Espinosa!

9/20 New papers from the lab discussing nectar microbiome, its effects on plants and pollinators, and traits that promote dispersal of microbes have been published online.

8/31/20 Jacob Francis joins the lab as a Postdoctoral Fellow, to work on nectar chemistry and pollination. Welcome Jake!

8/28/20 Allie Igwe officially defends and turns in her dissertation. Congrats Dr. Igwe!

6/20: 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.

4/20: 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.


Looking for old news? You’ll have to check the archives


Department of Entomology and Nematology

43 Briggs Hall (Basement)

Davis, CA 95616

rlvannette at ucdavis dot edu

Office phone: 530-752-3379

Lab phone: 530-752-4317