Exploring the chemical ecology of multi-trophic interactions

Month: December 2019

2019 Entomological Society of America Meeting in St. Louis

Members of the Helms lab traveled to St. Louis, Missouri in November to participate in the 2019 Entomological Society of America Meeting. John and Morgan both presented their research and participated in the Linnaean Games. John also received 2nd place in the student competition for his poster presentation on cucumber root volatile-mediated interactions. Anjel co-organized a symposium with Dr. Loren Rivera-Vega from Texas A&M and Swayamjit Ray from Penn State called “A Microbe, an Herbivore, and a Plant Walk into a Field…Microbes in Plant-Herbivore Interactions”. Anjel also presented a talk in the symposium titled “Entomopathogenic nematodes and their bacterial symbionts influence plant defenses and herbivore performance”. Overall, it was a great time to catch up with friends and collaborators, meet new people, and learn about some of the latest entomology research.

John, Morgan, and Anjel with John’s poster

October fun

The Helms lab had an exciting month of October filled with international conferences, seminar visits, cucurbit carving, and paper writing.

Anjel was invited to speak at the Asia-Pacific Association of Chemical Ecologists (APACE) biennial meeting in Hangzhou, China. She presented her talk “Chemical cues linked to risk: Plants and insect herbivores respond to chemical cues from entomopathogenic nematodes” in a symposium on ” Signaling and perception in plant-herbivore interactions” organized by Matthias Erb from the University of Bern in Switzerland and Yonggen Lou from Zhejiang University in China.

The Helms lab also had the pleasure of hosting Dr. Eric Yip from Penn State for a seminar visit. Eric presented his talk on “Exploring the ecology of a plant that eavesdrops on its specialist herbivore” as part of the TAMU Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Program seminar series.


After Eric’s visit, we hosted Anjel’s Ph.D. advisor, Dr. John Tooker from Penn State. John gave a guest lecture on gall insects for our graduate-level chemical ecology course and presented a seminar on “Toxic slugs chart a path back to IPM” as part of the TAMU Entomology Department seminar series. To thank John and give him a proper Texas welcome, we hosted a reception complete with smoked pork and brisket and put him to work hanging up lights around the yard.


We finished out the month and celebrated the submission of our review paper by carving cucurbits on Halloween.


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