AMHURST, Mass. Biologist Lynn Adler of the University of Massachusetts Amherst received the Mahoney Life Science Award for showing that different types of wildflowers can significantly affect bee health and reproductive performance.
"My lab studies the role of flowers in pollinator health and disease transmission," says Adler. "Flowers are definitely a source of pollen, but in some cases nectar or pollen can be medicinal. But flowers are high-traffic areas, just like people, high-traffic areas can be disease transmission sites. Different wildflowers pollinate." We control how they help or hinder dispersal and which flower characteristics affect pollinators.
Adler's work is particularly relevant to what many call the "insect apocalypse," or the rapid global extinction of insects due to climate change, pesticides, and habitat loss. According to some estimates, 75% of insects have disappeared in the last 50 years.
"I am honored to have my research recognized by the Mahoney Life Sciences Award," said Adler. "Pollinators are critical to the health of our planet – affecting everything from our agricultural abundance to the flourishing of biodiversity. This reinforces the recognition of the practical social importance of finding effective ways to support pollination.
Established in 2018 by UMass Alumni Amherst and siblings Richard, Robert and William Mahoney, the award is an annual competition for UMass College of Natural Sciences (CNS) scientists engaged in high-impact research in the life sciences. It aims to recognize and celebrate excellence, promote critical problem-solving translational research, and strengthen collaborative relationships between life science researchers and industry.
Richard Mahoney, CEO and former president of Monsanto, said, “We are proud to support world-class research at the University of Massachusetts with the Mahoney Life Sciences Award. It is important to do our best to promote scientific inventions and research that solve serious problems and improve people's lives. Strengthen and promote the connections between their industrial applications. Dr. Adler's research is exemplary, providing solutions to critical biological needs and nurturing the next generation of biologists to search for tomorrow's discoveries. Extraordinary developments at UMass Amherst UMass, a leading research institution worldwide. They decided."
The Mahoney brothers earned their bachelor's degrees in chemistry from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. They became leaders in their industries and served as senior graduate advisors and student mentors.
"We are extremely grateful to Mahoney, whose generosity is creating an important bridge between research and real-world applications," said CNS Acting Dean Nathaniel Whittaker. In our rapidly changing world, the ability to apply new scientific knowledge to solve the world's greatest problems is an urgent challenge.
After careful review by expert life sciences scientists and industry leaders, the $10,000 award is given to a CNS professor who is the lead author of peer-reviewed research that aligns with the broad goals of the Mahoney Award. Promoting links between academic research and industry in the life sciences among others.
Special aspects of Adler's research
"Ultimately, I want to know if different flowers help prevent or spread disease," Adler says. In the year In a new paper published in 2020 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Adler and his colleagues sought to understand how pollinators of different flowering plants affect pollinator health and fertility.
His team's experiment replicated a real agricultural scenario, where a local pollinator wanted to grow wildflowers. The group set up a tent line; Underneath each, Adler and his colleagues planted canola, which is grown for oil.
The group placed wild flowers under the bush. Although the species in generations are the same, the relative abundance of each species has changed.
After the team sets up food sources and sets up tents, they release bees into each tent, some of which are susceptible to pathogens. After two weeks in the tent, Adler and his colleagues counted the infected bees and measured the colony's fertility.
What Adler found was surprising. The bees in granaries, whose only food source was raided, were extremely poor in reproduction and in poor health. All the bees in the wildflower shops have increased reproductive rates. However, the rate of outbreaks varies in the wild-flowering mix; There are twice as many bees in wildflower shops that transmit many pathogens than bees that prevent transmission.
"It's always good to have wildflower pollen, but some wildflower mixes are healthier than others," Adler said. Adler's current research aims to find out why this happens and what characteristics of flowers keep pollinators healthy.
One of the panelists and University of Massachusetts graduate Richard Gregory, Genzyme's former head of research, said, “Adler's research is remarkable for its impact on pollinator health and productivity. Globally, the number of pollinators, including bees, is declining, and research like Dr. Adler's is key to reversing this alarming trend.
The panel of external reviewers was Stefan K. Bayer, Head of Food Science at Motif FoodWorks; Leslie Diraoff ('70), former USGS Northwest Regional Director; Richard Gregory ('86), Fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering; Dennis Gubersky (75, 83), founder of Biomer and Mucosal Vaccine Technologies LLC; David Mazo (81, 84), president and CEO of Caladrius Biosciences; Vic Mayer, entrepreneur at Atlas Ventures; Chuck Sherwood (72, 77), founder and former CEO of Annika Therapeutics; Diane Stangle ('72, 80), associate professor of chemistry at Holyoke Community College; and Monica Tan ('98), Vice President of Science Exchange Products.
Contact : Lynn Adler, [email protected]
Dean Miller, [email protected]