UNR is a major center for multidisciplinary collaborations between ecologists and chemists. Current projects focus on the function of both the sweet- and sting-side of bees' chemical worlds.
Nectar is much more than a simple sugar solution. Rather, it is a complex mixture that can contain a brew of secondary compounds at behaviorally relevant doses, amino acids and ions. We are interested in understanding how secondary metabolites affect pollinator biology and behavior (Richardson et al., 2015 PRSB and Anthony et al., 2015 PLOS ONE), and in exploring how other nectar constituents affect the gustatory preferences and responsiveness of bumblebees (collaboration with Chris Jeffrey, UNR Chemistry Dept.). Stay tuned!
Those who have been stung by a bumblebee can appreciate how a small amount of venom can go a long way. With Drs. Matthew Tucker (UNR Chemistry) and Ian Wallace (UNR Biochemistry), we are setting out to characterize the physical chemistry of Bombus venom proteins.