Iowa State University
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News Service

News Service:

Annette Hacker, director,
(515) 294-3720

Office: (515) 294-4777

6-7-07

Contacts:

Jennifer Tabke, ISU University Conference Services, (515) 294-4700, tabke@iastate.ed

Mary Harris, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Entomology, (515) 294-9490, maharris@iastate.edu

John Nason, Associate Professor of Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology, (515) 294-2268, jnason@iastate.edu

Dan Kuester, News Service, (515) 294-0704, kuester@iastate.edu

ISU to host meeting to address Colony Collapse Disorder in bees, other topics

AMES, Iowa -- Iowa State University will host an international meeting of pollination experts who will address, among other topics, Colony Collapse Disorder - the latest phenomenon that is affecting the number of bees pollinating food crops in America and Europe that can seriously impact food supplies.

The conference, the 9th International Pollination Symposium on Plant-Pollinator Relationships - Diversity in Action, will run from June 24-28 at the Scheman Building on Iowa State's campus in Ames.

More than 100 scientists, researchers, graduate students and others will attend the event which will include more than two dozens speakers from Germany, Italy, Denmark, Canada, Brazil, Australia, Spain, the Netherlands, the U.K. and the U.S. who will present information on a variety of pollination-related topics.

The Wednesday morning session of the symposium will focus exclusively on Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) with special speakers addressing the disorder from 8 - 10 a.m. A special registration fee has been established for individuals who want to attend only the Wednesday programming. The morning speakers will be followed by a discussion of CCD from 10 - 11 a.m. moderated by Richard Hellmich, a research entomologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service and an adjunct assistant professor in entomology at Iowa State.

Colony Collapse Disorder is a term applied to the unexplained deaths of bee colonies across the United States. While the cause of the deaths is not fully understood, the losses have an impact on many crops that depend on bees for pollination.

The symposium is designed to include some of the top pollination researchers in the world.

"We've worked very hard to get all the leading researchers from the various areas of pollination, including those who are involved in Colony Collapse Disorder," said Mary Harris, adjunct assistant professor in entomology and an event organizer.

With the growing concern of the effect CCD will have on the nation's food supply, finding answers is becoming increasingly important.

"There is a crisis right now in the number of pollinators. People don't realize the importance of pollinators in the food they eat," said Harris. "There's an old saying that goes, 'When you eat, every third bite you should thank a pollinator.' Without pollinators, we wouldn't have many of the foods we eat today."

This will mark the second time the symposium will have been held in the United States. Iowa State was chosen as the site both because of logistical advantages, the amount of pollination-related research conducted by ISU and the North Central Plant Introduction station, and the deep significance of pollinators to agricultural productivity.

John Nason, an associate professor in the department of ecology, evolution and organismal biology at Iowa State, said the conference is a mixed blessing.

"It's unfortunate that CCD is happening," he said. "But it's a good thing that the symposium is happening here and now to address the issue."

One of the speakers in the CCD segment of the conference is Jeffrey Pettis, a research entomologist for the USDA - ARS in Maryland. He will present his lecture "Honey Bee Colony Collapse Disorder in the United States."

Keynote speaker for the conference is James Thompson a professor in the department of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Toronto, Canada, who will be presenting "A Pollen-centric View of Plant-Pollinator Commerce: The Advantages of Thinking Small."

Over the course of the symposium, more than 30 additional researchers will be speaking on topics including how plants attract and reward pollinators, impacts of pollinators on the movement of plant pollen and genes, pollinators in agricultural production and plant germplasm management, and the biology and conservation of pollinators, including native species.

June 24-30 has been designated National Pollinator Week, Gov. Chet Culver has designated the week as National Pollinator Week in Iowa, and the U.S. Postal Service plans to introduce a Pollination Stamp series to commemorate the week.

The symposium is sponsored by the International Commission for Plant-Bee Relationships and coordinated by the local organizing committee of ISU faculty.

For more information or to register, visit the symposium Web site at www.ucs.iastate.edu/plantbee.

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Quick look

ISU will host an international meeting of pollination experts who will address, among other topics, Colony Collapse Disorder--the latest phenomenon that is affecting the number of bees pollinating food crops.

Quote

"There is a crisis right now in the number of pollinators. People don't realize the importance of pollinators in the food they eat."

Mary Harris