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Biological sciences research team publishes in high impact journal

A trio of NDSU scientists recently had their research published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“Developmental regulation of body size in the solitary bee, Osmia Lignaria: An alternative to the critical weight paradigm,” was co-written by Kendra Greenlee, associate professor of biological sciences, Julia Bowsher, associate professor of biological sciences, and biological sciences post-doctoral fellow Bryan Helm.

The study investigated the metamorphosis of solitary bees. Greenlee, Bowsher and Helm found that solitary bees initiated metamorphosis into their adult body size when they had completely consumed their food. In contrast, the decision to begin metamorphosis begins when larva reaches a critical weight in most other insects.

The research team was able to create a wide range of body sizes, making mini bees and giant bees 10 times the normal size by manipulating food amounts.

“We think that food absence could initiate metamorphosis in many insects besides these solitary bees,” Bowsher said. “Many insects are provisioned by their parents, including many species of bees, parasitic insects and dung-feeding beetles. In any species in which the parents provide the food, we hypothesize that they would be similar to solitary bees in how they regulate metamorphosis.”  

Greenlee joined the NDSU faculty in 2007. Her research focuses on insect physiology, respiratory physiology and comparative immunology. Bowsher joined the faculty in 2010. Her focus is on the evolution and development of insect morphology with a concentration on novel structures. Helm’s research interests include physiology and mechanisms underlying life history transitions in insects.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences is one of the world’s most cited, comprehensive, multidisciplinary journals featuring research from the biological, physical and social sciences.

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