Cipollini Lab

the website of the Cipollini Lab at Wright State University

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Summer 2017

We are just back from presenting at the Ecological Society of America annual meeting in Portland. Libby Roberson gave a nice talk on her results regarding the interaction of herbivores with native and invasive Euonymus species, and I presented our continually evolving results about the ability of emerald ash borer to use olive as a host, with co-author and lab alumnus, Chad Rigsby, and current PhD student, Donnie Peterson. It was good to catch up with Chad (now a postdoc at Rhode Island) and Sam Davis, lab alumnus and scientist with the Dogwood Alliance.  It was also great to catch up with our good friend Adrienne Godschalx, who graduated just recently from Portland State University.

Dani Thiemann defended her MS in Spring 2017, finding that the falcate orangetip butterfly often makes the same mistakes as the West Virginia White butterfly, laying its eggs on the invasive garlic mustard on which its larvae all die. This is especially true later in the season when garlic mustard flowers and is more apparent than the native host, cut leaved toothwort (Cardamine concatenata).

Donnie has been working diligently to fill in the gaps on the use of white fringetree by emerald ash borer, including examinations of adult attraction to alternate hosts as well as adult use of foliage for maturation feeding. This has involved volatile capture and profiling, olfactometry, common garden studies and lots of bioassays. We have been aided greatly in such efforts this summer by Kate Butterbaugh, headed soon to New Mexico State University.

Marie Johnson has generated a great deal of data for her MS thesis on the demographics and growth dynamics of a disjunct hemlock population from Clifton Gorge, near Dayton. Clifton Gorge is a well known and highly visited state natural area and we need to study the hemlocks there before hemlock woolly adelgid arrives.

Finally, we look forward to having undergrad, Emily Schneider, back in the lab in the Fall. She will be testing some predictions of optimal defense theory in the emerald ash borer-host system.

Cheers, and I hope to provide more frequent updates in the future.


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Fall 2015-Winter 2016 Update

Its been a while since I posted an update, so here it goes in an whirlwind: Sam Davis (ES PhD) graduated with flying colors in May 2015 and headed immediately to a post-doc at UC-Merced.  Her work on the West Virginia White butterfly continues to be published, with new papers in press, in review, or soon to be submitted.  She wond the grad excellence award for the program during the year. Dani Thiemann joined us as a MS student in Summer 2015 from the University of Dayton. She helped address some questions related to the attack history and success of emerald ash borer on white fringetree during the summer and fall, but she’ll follow in Sam’s footsteps working on the interactions of some of our native mustard specialist butterflies with native and invasive hosts. At the end of the summer, Donnie Peterson (ES PhD) joined us from a MS program at Purdue to work on the interactions of emerald ash borer with novel hosts, like white fringetree and relatives. We’ve now found white fringetrees attacked by emerald ash borer throughout southwestern Ohio, in Indiana and Illinois, and most recently in Pennsylvania. Libby Roberson (ES PhD) continues to make headway on the effects of invasive shrubs like honeysuckle and burning bush on arthropod communities in southwestern Ohio. She recently won a grant from the Ohio Invasive Plants Council to further her work in this area. Lauren Shewhart is also progressing toward defending her MS in Spring 2016, and has collected a great deal of data on preferences and performance of native herbivores on their native host plants relative to potential invasive host plants, like honeysuckles, Callery pear, autumn olive and burning bush. Finally, Chad Rigsby (ES PhD) continued his hard work on dissecting the ways that ash trees defend against emerald ash borer, and ways that the insect counters these defenses. He has also played a big role in studies of emerald ash borer with novel hosts in the past year.  Plans are for Chad to finish in Spring 2016.

We’ve been helped in our studies in the least year by a cadre of undergraduates, including Jennifer Jessie, Marie Johnson, Emily Schneider, and Megan McGrew.

In addition to assisting students when and where I can, papers continue to be published from past graduates and other studies. In particular, Deah Lieurance had a large collaborative paper published recently on comparative herbivory rates and chemical profiles of native and invasive Lonicera species that represented the last chapter of her dissertation for the ES PhD program. I’ve spent a great deal of time in the last year gathering evidence from the field and laboratory on the extent of the usage of white fringetree and other relatives by emerald ash borer, as well as speaking to lots of different audiences about it! Its been a wild ride.  I’ve also been exploring placing pollinator gardens on the campus of Wright State, which should be installed starting in Spring 2016.


Fall 2014

What a whirlwind the last few months have been.  Lauren and Libby spent the summer gathering lots of preliminary data and otherwise establishing baselines and designs for further work on invasive shrub-arthropod interactions.  Both have recently been awarded research grants; a Biology Award for Research Excellence for Lauren, and a Graduate Student Association award for Libby.  Awesome news!

Chad, Sam, and I are just back from Ent Soc 2014 in Portland.  Chad and Sam gave a couple of their best talks to date. Chad spoke on differentiating plant defenses in resistant and susceptible ash species and physiological responses of emerald ash borer larvae to those defenses. Sam spoke about her latest progress on identifying determinants of adult oviposition preferences, yet larval failure, of the West Virginia White butterfly on garlic mustard. Sam was recently offered a post-doc with Emily Moran at the University of California-Merced, where she’ll extend her modeling expertise to examine forest dynamics.

Chad and I also presented at a recent emerald ash borer research review meeting, hosted by the USDA-APHIS in Wooster, OH. It was there that I presented for the first time that emerald ash borer is using white fringetree as a host in the field.  Perhaps you’ve seen the news… The paper on that find will be published soon in the Journal of Economic Entomology. Stay tuned.


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Summer 2014

Its been busy!  Four graduate students and two undergrads have been working all summer in the lab, greenhouse, and field on all sorts of interesting novel plant-novel insect interactions research.  Libby Sancomb defended her MS in Biology this summer and joined our lab in the Environmental Sciences PhD program.  Lauren Shewhart joined our lab as a MS student in Biology after earning her BS and doing an Honor’s thesis at the University of Dayton.  Libby and Lauren are past and current winners of Graduate Council Scholarships from Wright State, respectively.

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Spring and Summer 2013

Spring and Summer 2013 brought lots of activity to the lab.  First, Jonathan Ali defended his Undergraduate Honor’s thesis on “Effects of soil biota and rhizosphere extract from non-native Lonicera maackii on the native Impatiens capensis”.  Jon is off to a graduate program in Toxicology at the University of Nebraska.  Sam Davis had a tremendously productive Spring and early Summer in her search for direct and indirect effects of garlic mustard on a rare butterfly, the West Virginia White, Pieris virginiensis.  In short, much of the previously anecdotal evidence suggesting that this butterfly is negatively affected by garlic mustard has been borne out in a statistically rigorous way.  Chad Rigsby had another full season examining oviposition preferences of the Emerald Ash Borer and adds an important dimension to the extended resistance phenotype of resistant species of ash; they don’t get chosen for oviposition, at least when more susceptible species are around.  Our bioassay to examine larval performance of EAB was also streamlined and used to produce some very good information on putative host resistance factors to this insect.  We thank our excellent undergraduate assistant this summer, Jordan Browning, from Kettering College for all of her help.  Finally, as the end of the Summer approaches, we look forward to welcoming Arony Muhit, an M.S, student from Bangladesh, to the lab for a Fall 2013 start.

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Much has happened in the last three months.  Deah Lieurance successfully defended her dissertation on plant-insect interactions in Lonicera in the Environmental Sciences PhD program, and is now happily employed in Florida as an Invasive Species Assessment Coordinator located at the University of Florida.  Andy Officer defended his M.S. thesis on impacts of a powdery mildew fungus on the competitive impacts of garlic mustard.  He is employed with a company marketing eye bank technologies in Dayton.  Most of the remaining group (Sam Davis, Chad Rigsby) and I are heading to the Gordon Conference in Plant-Herbivore interactions soon.