International Carnivorous Plant Society

The 2016 ICPS conference was held at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in England this August 2016. It was a fantastic meeting spanning topics in carnivorous plant systematics, evo-devo, molecular evolution, ecology, biomechanics, and horticulture. We had a chance to visit the famous Kew Herbarium, view a type specimen ofNepenthes rajah, and see some original correspondences with Joseph Hooker. Sir David Attenborough even visited us for a short but glorious moment to receive a painting of Nepenthes attenboroughii! We ended our meeting with a visit to Down House, the home of Charles Darwin. All in all, a great meeting. See you at the next meeting!

Successful first NSF CarabidQ meeting completed!

Here’s to a successful first NSF PI meeting with (from the left): Sihang Xu (Ph.D. student, Stevens Institute of Technology), Dr. Athula Attygalle (PI, Stevens Institute of Technology), Dr. Wendy Moore (PI, University of Arizona), Dr. Kipling Will (PI, UC Berkeley), Dr. Tanya Renner (PI, San Diego State University), Dr. Aman Gill (Postdoctoral Researcher, UC Berkeley), Reilly Mcmanus (Master’s Student, University of Arizona).

James Crouch Lecture

Dr. Chelsea Specht (Associate Professor, University of California, Berkeley) gives SDSU’s first James Crouch Lecture on Monday, May 9th 2016: “PETALOIDY AND POLLINATION: THE EVOLUTION OF FLORAL FORM IN THE ZINGIBERALES.” A fantastic mix of phylogeny, molecular evolution, a comparative morphology! We had a chance to visit the Torrey Pines State Reserve with Dr. Mike Simpson.

‘The Bombardier Beetle And Its Crazy Chemical Cannon’ featured on KQED Science’s Deep Look


Elliott Kennerson reports on ‘The Bombardier Beetle And Its Crazy Chemical Cannon‘ for KQED Science’s Deep Look program. Learn about the bombardier beetle, what we know about it’s explosive chemistry, and some of our hypotheses as to how this system may have evolved. Collaborator Dr. Kip Will (UC Berkeley) stars in this video (alongside the bombardier Brachinus)!

‘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.


Feature on Carnivorous Plants

The Renner Lab provided content related to carnivorous plants and their digestive fluid for Atlas Obscura‘s article featuring man-eating plant myths: “Once the idea of a giant, flesh-eating plant enters the imagination, it can be hard to dislodge. Imagine this: you’re in the jungle, and you discover a plant with surprisingly large, tentacle-like leaves. The clearing is full of a heavy, sweet smell. Maybe there’s an animal skeleton under the plant. Did the leaves move? Was that just the wind? You move closer, and the plant seems to yearn towards you….” Read the full article on Atlas Obscura’s webpage.


Nepenthes rajah (Photo: Wikimedia)


Dr. Ulrike Bauer Visits The Renner Lab

We were very lucky to have Dr. Ulrike Bauer visit the laboratory the past 10 days to collaborate on a Nepenthes transcriptome project. On October 26th, she gave a wonderful departmental seminar ‘Springboards, water slides and sticky pools – How carnivorous pitcher plants catch their food’. Dr. Ulrike’s research uses carnivorous plants as a model to investigate mechanical defense strategies of plants. Her work combines the study of functional plant morphology with elements of biomechanics, ecology and developmental biology to address both ecological and evolutionary questions. I invite you to read about her current research that was featured on this October ( and to watch a short video ( Of course, between lab work and brainstorming, we had to visit some great San Diego wilderness areas.


‘Independent Co-Option Of A Tailed Bacteriophage Into A Killing Complex In Pseudomonas’ Manuscript Published!

Collaborative manuscript with University of Arizona (Kevin Hockett and Dave Baltrus, School of Plant Sciences) ‘Independent Co-option of a Tailed Bacteriophage into a Killing Complex in Pseudomonas‘ was published in mBio today!
See the full paper here:

Collaborative research featured on BacterioFiles Podcast

Our collaborative research (with Kevin Hockett and David Baltrus, U. Arizona) was featured on a recent BacterioFiles Podcast: “Bacteria have repeatedly captured and used the tails of phages to fight each other!” Listen to us talk about the Independent Co-Option of a Tailed Bacteriophage into a Killing Complex in Pseudomonas.

Listen to the podcast here.