The Ramsey Lab seeks to understand the complexity of adaptations required for a parasite to live on or in an unwilling food source. We are currently studying a novel parasitic pathway I've termed “kleptocytosis”, wherein the parasite steals host egg yolk proteins and conveys them intact to an oocyte to be used by its embryonic young. This pathway is known in only one organism to date, the invasive bee parasite Varroa destructor which is responsible for the vast majority of honey bee colony losses. Via electron, confocal, two-photon, and light-microscopy in addition microCT and a range of histological techniques, the Ramsey Lab is working to map out each step in this pathway. This information is valuable as basic research but we will also be working to disrupt this pathway in the hopes of developing a novel means of managing this devastating parasite. The Ramsey Lab also works to understand what qualities make honey bee symbionts especially adept at exploiting bees & invading ecosystems. For this goal, I've designed a visualization system which will allow an investigator to observe previously inaccessible segments of the parasite’s lifecycle. By detailing and quantifying these characteristics, we may be better positioned to understand how these parasites so frequently have the upper-hand in the evolutionary arms race. We further, focus on understanding how eusocial organisms manage parasitism from the position of being superorganisms. Finally, the Ramsey Lab works to understand diseases/parasites of bees that are currently restricted in their geographic range. This requires a fair amount of travel in Asia to investigate disease/parasites and obscure host bees of which very little is known. These diseases/parasites will be genetically sequenced, morphometrically measured and imaged, and for those which present a clear and present danger to pollinators we will sustain further focus on developing effective management measures.
Pollinator Health, Invasive Species Ecology, Insect Behavior, Invertebrate Anatomy & Morphology, Science Communication