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Insect Reproduction, Genetics and Evolution
My primary research interests are population genetics and evolution of the honey bee genus Apis. In the Old World, my research is centered on phylogeograhic studies of honey bee subspecies lineages, the speciation process and the systematics of the group. As honey bees are an introduced species in the New World, many of the molecular tools we developed have applicability to other invasive insects of agricultural significance. Reproductive biology of the honey bee includes the fascinating ability to store sperm for years of subsequent use following mating flight(s) and multiple matings that take place in early adult life. The population genetic and evolutionary implications of asymmetrical sperm survival and utilization are an emerging topic within my laboratory.
Continuing projects underway include a long-term honey bee breeding effort and stock center at WSU. Efforts of this project include importation of honey bee germplasm and maintenance of selected honey bee lines through use of both an isolated mating station (Smoot Hill) and instrumental insemination techniques). In addition, we continue to investigate pest and pathogen loads and dimensions of colony health within stationary and migratory populations of Washington State honey bees and the ongoing "Africanization" process of US honey bee populations (the introgression of African-derived genes into honey bees of European origin)
Strange, J.P, L, Garnery and W.S. Sheppard. 2007. Persistence of the Les Landes ecotype of Apis mellifera mellifera in southwest France: confirmation of a locally adaptive annual brood cycle. Apidologie. 38:259-267.
Ken, T, M.A., Meixner, S. Fuchs, Z. Xuan, H. Shaoyu, I. Kandemir, W. S. Sheppard, and N. Koeniger. 2007. Geographic distribution of the eastern honeybee, Apis cerana (Hymenoptera: Apidae) across ecological zones in China: morphological and molecular analyses. Systematics and Biodiversity. 5: 1-10.
Whitfield, C.W, S.K. Behura, S.H. Berlocher, A.G. Clark, J.S. Johnson, W.S. Sheppard, D.R. Smith, A.V. Suarez, D. Weaver and N. D. Tsutsui. 2006. Thrice out of Africa: Ancient and resent expansions of the honey bee, Apis mellifera. Science. 314:642-645.
Arias, M.C, T. E. Rinderer and W. S. Sheppard. 2006. Further characterization of honey bees from the Iberian Peninsula by allozyme, morphometric and mtDNA haplotype analyses. J. Apic. Res. and Bee World. 45:188-196.
Arias MC, Sheppard WS. 2005 Phylogenetic relationships of honey bees (Hymenoptera:Apinae:Apini) inferred from nuclear and mitochondrial DNA sequence data. Mol Phylogenet Ecol. 37:25-35.
Meixner MD, McPheron BA, Silva JG, Gasparich GE, Sheppard WS. 2002 The Mediterranean fruit fly in California: evidence for multiple introductions and persistent populations based on microsatellite and mitochondrial DNA variability. Mol Ecol. 11(5):891-899.