Dr Emily Remnant
A12 - Macleay Building
The University of Sydney
|Telephone||+61 2 9351 2267|
Room 248, A12 - Macleay
Behaviour and Genetics of Social Insects Laboratory
I am a molecular geneticist interested in evolution and the functional outcomes of genetic and epigenetic changes. I study insects as they are excellent systems for observing evolutionary phenomena in measurable timescales, with short generation times and intense selective pressures that often lead to dynamic changes. I completed my PhD at the University of Melbourne in 2012, studying the genetic changes involved in the development of insecticide resistance. I joined the Social insects laboratory at the University of Sydney in 2012. Currently I work on a variety of projects covering many aspects of honey bee biology.
In honey bees, the epigenetic mark of DNA methylation determines whether a female larvae becomes a queen or a worker, but methylation is likely to be involved in other biological functions. Together with Ben Oldroyd, I am examining DNA methylation in maternal and paternal genomes. Our goal is to investigate the impact of epigenetic changes on genomic conflict and to determine if parental imprinting occurs in honey bees. We use molecular and genomic techniques to examine methylation patterns in different honey bee castes, lifestages and tissues (Drewell et al, Development 141, 2702-2711).
Honey bees suffer from a multitude of diseases resulting from many different types of organisms, ranging from parasitic mites, to fungal and bacterial infections, and in particular, RNA viruses. Australia is the final large land mass free from the Varroa destructor mite, a devastating vector of RNA viruses. Madeleine Beekman and I are interested in understanding how a vector can change the viral landscape of honey bee viruses and select for virulence. We use RNA sequencing, and in-hive experiments to investigate the dynamics of viral evolution, transmission, and resistance in honey bees.
Australia is now home to two (non-native) honey bee species: the western honey bee Apis mellifera, used widely in apiculture, and the eastern hive bee Apis cerana, a recent invader that arrived in far north Queensland in 2007. Recently we showed that drones of the invasive Apis cerana population mate with Apis mellifera queens (Remnant et al, Mol Ecol 23, 1096-1107). Interspecific mating has reproductive consequences for both species, particularly if the invasive A.cerana becomes more widespread. Ros Gloag is now examining the genetics of A. cerana in the Cairns region.
- Why do honey bees survive Varroa infections in Tonga; Beekman M, Remnant E; Australia & Pacific Science Foundation/Research Project Grant.