Entomology 590: Special Topics

Current Semester:

Fall 2020

ENT 590N Population Genetics.  Gassmann.  1 credit (P/F), one meeting per week (2 hours) for seven weeks. 

Overview: The focus of the course will be on the population genetics of adaptation by insects to insecticides, transgenic crops, and host-plant resistance.  Articles for discussion will be selected by the instructor.  Students will be responsible for leading discussion and will share equally in this responsibility, with individuals leading discussion on specific articles.  We will cover roughly three articles per week.  For the last meeting of the course, each student will give a 10 minute presentation to the class on a paper they select.

Learning Objectives: Upon completion of the course, students will have:

  • Increased their understanding of key concepts in population genetics, including selection, heritability, genetic drift and gene flow.
  • Learned the applications of population genetics to predicting and delaying the evolution of resistance by insect pests to management tactics including insecticides and transgenic crops.
  • Learned the primary research results contained within the most influential papers in insect resistance management.
  • Demonstrated their ability to think critically about research presented in the peer-reviewed literature.

Upcoming Schedule:

S21 590B Chemical Ecology and Behavior (Jurenka)

F21 590C Ecology and Pest Management (O'Neal / Hodgson)

S22 590F Medical and Veterinary Entomology (Smith)

F22 590D Evolution and Systematics (Courtney)

S23 590G Molecular Entomology (Smith)

F23 590I Toxicology and Biochemistry (Coats)

S24 590A Biological Control and Pathology

Previous Semesters:

Spring 2020

590E Legal hemp production: potential and constraints for crop production. O'Neal. 1 credit, one meeting per week, from 6-7.

Overview: With the recent changes in Iowa laws (and those of surrounding states) regarding the production and use of Cannabis spp., there are opportunities for many to explore a new, legal enterprise. In this 1-credit course, a team of faculty and government officers will explore this topic. Each instructor will provide a lecture and lead discussions on topics within their area of expertise. Students will be given an overview of the biology, ecology and production of Cannabis sp., along with the many legal, industrial and cultural factors that influence cannabis production. Note, this course is not an endorsement of cannabis production, but rather an exploration of a topic that may have substantial impacts to many aspects of the agricultural community.

  • Students that successfully complete the course will be able to:
  • Describe the origins, classification, morphology, life cycle, growth and development, physiology, and chemical makeup of Cannabis spp.
  • Describe laws and regulation pertaining Cannabis production, distribution and use.
  • Locate, analyze and use information on the legal production of Cannabis spp.
  • Present a balanced and objective view on the production of legal Cannabis spp..

Fall 2019

590E Modeling Insect Populations.  Onstad and O'Neal.  1 credit, one meeting (2 hours) per week for 8 weeks.

Overview:  Modeling is often considered math. However, modeling is mostly based on logic, careful review of the literature (understanding of a system), and rigorous commitment to a goal. Modeling forces us to recognize our assumptions, biases, and ignorance. Modelers believe that the results, although based on simplifications, provide insights that are not achieved via other methods of inquiry. We will survey the styles of modeling, some history and philosophy, and discuss key modeling papers selected to match the interests of the students. Along the way Dr. Onstad will offer advice to students already modeling or about to start. Experience with calculus (a single class) is recommended but not required. 

Course objectives:  Through this course students will:
-Become familiar with the history and practice of modelling of populations.
-Discuss key applications of modelling that have advanced the understanding of insect ecology and pest management.
-Explore the use of models to address issues in insect ecology and pest management of interest to the students.

Spring 2019

590I Toxicology and Biochemistry. Coats.1 credit, one meeting per week.

Overview:  This course addresses the toxicity of insecticides of all types against insects and ticks, including conventional insecticides, natural products from plants, microorganisms, and animals, insect growth regulators, as well as repellents. We will discuss the mechanisms of action on insect nervous systems, basal metabolism, lipid synthesis, midgut function, and growth and development. The course will first provide background on the principles toxicology and how toxicity is measured. Students will present recent literature from the field of insect toxicology and lead a discussion with the class.

Aims of the course:
-To provide background knowledge in the concepts of insect toxicology
-To increase knowledge of studies in insects using insect toxicology methods
-Allow students to use their communication skills to lead discussions with the class

Fall 2018

590G Molecular Entomology. Smith. 1 credit, one meeting per week.  The goal of this course is to review techniques and current molecular biology methods to better understand their application in the study of entomology. The course will provide background into study of DNA, transcription, and translation, as well as an introduction to principles in genetics. From these techniques, we demonstrate applications of molecular biology to study gene function in a variety of insect systems and outline translational approaches using RNAi, transgenesis, and CRSIPR-Cas9 gene-editing technologies.  Students are expected to engage in in-class discussions of the material and will present recent literature from the field of insect molecular biology.

Spring 2018

590D Insect Systematics and Evolution. Courtney. 1 credit, one meeting per week.  The goal of this course is to review contemporary topics and current issues in insect systematics, phylogenetics, evolution, genomics, co-evolution, and related topics. Students will present recent literature that include aspects of insect systematics and evolution. Students are also expected to engage in in-class discussions of the material. Grading will be via letter grade. There are no prerequisites for this class.

Fall 2017

590F Medical and Veterinary Entomology. Smith. 1 credit, one meeting per week. The goals of this course are to review contemporary topics and current issues in the transmission of disease by arthropod vectors of medical and veterinary importance. Students will present recent literature from the fields of medical and/or veterinary entomology that include aspects of disease transmission, epidemiology, and challenges for vector control.  Students are also expected to engage in in-class discussions of the material. Grading will be on a pass/fail basis. There are no prerequisites for this class.