Kylie Bocklund receives an Honorable Mention for the NSF GRFP!

The National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program recognizes and supports outstanding students in NSF-supported STEM disciplines who are pursing graduate research. Kylie’s proposal was recognized with an Honorable Mention! This Honorable Mention is received by a relatively small percentage of applicants and acknowledges her past accomplishments and potential for graduate research. Congratulations, Kylie!

Arthi Bala Presents at the Spring Undergraduate Exhibition!

Penn State University hosts The Undergraduate Exhibition annually to provide undergraduate students of all PSU campuses the opportunity to showcase their engagement experiences, research projects and performance arts with a variety of media and poster presentations for the university and for the public.

Renner Lab’s Undergraduate Researcher, Arthi Bala, who is a sophomore in the Biology Department of the Eberly College of Science, presented her first research poster Wednesday evening, which outlined her research completed over the last two semesters with Mentor Adam Rork. The research titled “Multiple Losses of Folate Cycle Genes in Archaea” focuses on bioinformatic analysis in the conservation and loss of genes involved in the folate cycle related to purine biosynthesis, resulting in maximum-likelihood Archaean phylogenies. The proposed phylogenies suggest evolutionary pathways in 18 Archaen orders for two purine biosynthesis genes, FTHFS and FOLD.

The Renner Lab is very excited for the great work being done by our undergraduate researchers and their mentors, and are equally excited to have Arthi Bala joining us during  Summer 2019 for additional bioinformatics research, fieldwork, laboratory science!

New paper in Arthropod Structure & Development!

Our new paper in Arthropod Structure and Development has been getting a lot of press recently!

See the press release for our paper in Penn State News & on the National Science Foundation’s news page.

Rork, A.M., Mikó, I., Renner T. Pygidial glands of Harpalus pensylvanicus (Coleoptera: Carabidae) contain resilin-rich structures. Arthropod Structure & Development. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.asd.2018.12.004.

This research was funded by the National Science Foundation (DEB 1556931/1762760 to Tanya Renner).

New paper in the Journal of Chemical Ecology!

See our new paper regarding carabid beetle semiochemistry in the Journal of Chemical Ecology!

Rork, A.M., Renner T. Carabidae semiochemistry: current and future directions. 2018. Journal of Chemical Ecology. doi: doi.org/10.1007/s10886-018-1011-8.

This research was funded by the National Science Foundation (DEB 1556931/1762760 to Tanya Renner).

The Great Insect Fair – 2017

This September, the Renner Lab participated in The Great Insect Fair, hosted by the Department of Entomology at Penn State. The fair celebrates insect (and some arthropod!) biodiversity and showcases pollinators, morphological and physiological adaptations, parasite manipulation of host behavior (Zombie ants!), vector-born disease, among other areas (see faculty pages and interests here). This year, we developed a new booth named ‘Centre County Carnivores!’, which introduced the public to carnivorous plants (and their relatives) that grow natively in bog ecosystems surrounding State College, PA. Participants learned about these amazing plants’ unique morphologies for trapping prey (concepts: adaption, convergent evolution, homology, are traps leaves or flowers – why or why not?) and how these amazing plants digest their insect prey (concepts: pH, enzymes, microbial communities). We also demonstrated the activity of cysteine protease, an enzyme used by independent lineages of carnivorous plants to digest prey. It was a great day and our new booth was even featured in a PennLive article!

Image of our Centre County Carnivore! booth. Marcus Schneck, mschneck@pennlive.com

Cysteine protease experiment using pineapple juice (contains bromelain) and gummi worms (contains gelatin protein). Results after 12 hours, L to R: worms, worms + H2O, worms + pineapple juice (worms are almost completely degraded!).

Welcome to the Renner Lab!

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What do we do?

We explore evolutionary patterns and processes that drive functional diversification. We are particularly interested in how multi-species interactions shape diversity on a genome-wide scale and influence form and function. Our research combines applied molecular biology with next-generation sequencing, bioinformatics, and phylogenetics. We use plants and insects as models to study adaptation and current projects focus on the evolution of chemical and structural defenses.

‘Beetling’ in Southern Arizona

Tanya visits with Wendy Moore’s lab at the University of Arizona for some ‘beetling’ in the eastern foothills of the Santa Catalina mountain range for our collaborative NSF project. Our goal was to find some quinone-producing Chlaenius and the bombardier beetle Brachinus. Pictured: Reilly McManus (Moore Lab, U. Arizona) holds up a vial of Chlaenius near the edge of a stream, rimmed with loose rocks. The perfect habitat for these beetles.

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