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Gro Amdam

Professor
Faculty, TEMPE Campus, Mailcode 4501
Professor
Faculty, TEMPE Campus, Mailcode 4501
Biography

Gro Amdam is a Norwegian biologist who is internationally known for her research on behavior and aging in honey bees. Amdam received her MSc (1999) and PhD (2003) degrees at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences before moving to the U.S. to do postdoctoral work at the University of California, Davis.

Professor Amdam has published more than 130 research articles and book chapters, and she has received several research awards. She maintains a lab at the University of Life Sciences in Norway, and promotes student exchange between both countries.

Her lab uses the honey bee to study the origins of social behavior. Her research team investigates honey bee social structure to understand how social behavior evolved from ancestral solitary forms of life. As her team has gained a better understanding of honey bee behavior, it has expanded its research to include gerontoloty, neurobiology and immunology.

Education
  • Ph.D. Norwegian University of Life Sciences 2003
  • M.Sc. Norwegian University of Life Sciences 1999
Videos
Social Insect Research Group (SIRG)
Research Interests

As a PhD student, Amdam discovered that an egg-yolk protein called Vitellogenin (Vg) was transferred by mouth from a specific sub-caste of worker honey bees (called “nurses”) to the other members of the colony (Amdam et al. 2003, Social exploitation of vitellogenin. PNAS 100: 1799-1802. Vg has a 700 mill year long history in animals and it is found in nearly all egg-laying species, but roles of Vg “outside of the egg” were unknown before my work. Her finding received considerable attention in the field of Evolution and Development, and spurred an array of studies, e.g. in ants, termites, sub-social beetles and fish, focusing on Vg copy number, gene evolution, and novel functions.

As a postdoc, Amdam asked whether evolutionary co-option of a central reproductive (egg-yolk) protein like Vg in honey bee feeding behavior was a clue to understanding the evolution of social organization. The motor of the honey bee society is the worker caste: sterile female helpers that are further divided into sub-castes, such as nurses and foragers. Was it possible that reproductive gene/regulatory networks influenced worker division of labor? This proposition was controversial, because the reproductive machinery of worker honey bees should be “turned off” and could not contribute to behavior. However, she documented that the worker ovary influenced behavior (Amdam et al. 2006, Complex social behaviour derived from maternal reproductive traits. Nature 439: 76-78.  This, and follow-on studies from the Amdam team, contributed to making functional and evolutionary research on reproductive pathways among the most vibrant topics in social insect research.

As faculty in the School of Life Sciences at ASU, Amdam has studied honey bee Vg structure and molecular properties, e.g. Havukainen et al. (2013, Vitellogenin recognizes cell damage through membrane binding and shields living cells from reactive oxygen species. JBC 288: 28369-28381. With this work, the Amdam lab can explain diverse effects of Vg on worker honey bee physiology, health and longevity. Over the last two years, moreover, the team connected its insights on Vg structure and role in egg-yolk formation to the process of invertebrate trans-generational immune priming; in which females prime offspring to fight diseases without use of acquired immunity and antibodies. With collaborators, Amdam documented that Vg binds pathogen molecular recognition patterns and transport these into eggs (Salmela et al. 2015, Transfer of immunity from mother to offspring is mediated via egg-yolk protein Vitellogenin. PLoS Pathogens 11(7): e1005015. This finding sets the stage for developing the first vaccines for honey bees.

Publications

Some selected publications from the past 5 years.

Hystad EM, Salmela H, Amdam GV, Munch D (2017) Hemocyte-mediated phagocytosis differs between honey bee (Apis mellifera) worker castes. PLoS ONE 12(9): e0184108

Rasmussen EM, Vågbø CB, Münch D, Krokan HE, Klungland A, Amdam GV, Dahl JA (2016). DNA base modifications in honey bee and fruit fly genomes suggest an active demethylation machinery with species- and tissue-specific turnover rates. Biochemistry and Biophysics Reports. 6: 9–15

Wang Y, Kaftanoglu O, Brent CS, Page RE Jr, Amdam GV. (2016) Starvation stress during larval development facilitates an adaptive response in adult worker honey bees (Apis mellifera L.). Journal of Experimental Biology 219(Pt 7):949-59. doi: 10.1242/jeb.130435.

Salmela H, Amdam GV, Freitak D. (2015) Transfer of Immunity from Mother to Offspring Is Mediated via Egg-Yolk Protein Vitellogenin. PLoS Pathogens 11(7):e1005015. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1005015.

Rangberg A, Mathisen G, Amdam G, Diep D. (2015). The paratransgenic potential of Lactobasillus kunkeei in the honey bee Apis mellifera. Beneficial Microbes, 21:1-11

Ihle KE, Rueppell, O., Huang ZY, Wang Y, Fondrk MK, Page RE, Amdam, GV. (2015) Genetic architecture of a hormonal response to gene knockdown in honey bees. Journal of Heredity, 106(2):155-65.

Ihle KE, Baker NA, Amdam GV. (2014) Insulin-like peptide response to nutritional input in honey bee workers. Journal of Insect Physiology. 69:49-55

Hystad EM, Amdam GV, Eide L. (2014) Mitochondrial DNA integrity changes with age but does not correlate with learning performance in honey bees. Experimental Gerontology 49:12-8.

Havukainen H, Munch D, Baumann A, Zhong S, Halskau O, Krogsgaard M, Amdam GV. (2013) Vitellogenin recognizes cell damage through membrane binding and shields living cells from reactive oxygen species. Journal of Biological Chemistry 288(39):28369-81

Nunes FM, Ihle KE, Mutti NS, Simões ZL, Amdam GV. (2013) The gene vitellogenin affects microRNA regulation in honey bee (Apis mellifera) fat body and brain. Journal of Experimental Biology 216(Pt 19):3724-32.

Flores KB, Wolschin F, Amdam GV. (2013) The role of methylation of DNA in environmental adaptation. Integrative Comparative Biology. 53(2):359-72.

Münch D, Kreibich CD, Amdam GV. (2013) Aging and its modulation in a long-lived worker caste of the honey bee. Journal of Experimental Biology. 216(Pt 9):1638-49.

Oostindjer, M. and Amdam, G.V. (2013) Systems integrity in health and aging – an animal model approach. Healthspan and Longevity, 2:2

Herb, B., Wolschin, F., Aryee, M., Langmead, B., Amdam, G.V, and Feinberg, A.P. (2012) Reversible switching between epigenetic states in honeybee behavioral subcastes. Nature Neuroscience, 15, 1371-1373       

Flores, K., Wolschin, F., Corneveaux, J.J., Allen, A., Huentelman, M.J. and Amdam, G.V. (2012) Genome-wide association between DNA methylation and alternative splicing in an invertebrate. BMC Genomics 13(1):

Wang, Y., Brent, C., Fennern, E. and Amdam, G.V. (2012) Gustatory perception and fat body energy metabolism are jointly affected by vitellogenin and juvenile hormone in honey bees. PLoS Genetics 8(6), e1002779    

Havukainen, H., Underhaug, J., Amdam, G.V. and Halskau, Ø. (2012) A vitellogenin polyserine cleavage site: highly disordered conformation protected from proteolysis by phosphorylation. Journal of Experimental Biology 215, 1837-1846

Baker, N., Wolschin, F. and Amdam, G.V. (2012) Age-related learning deficits can be reversed in honeybees Apis mellifera. Experimental Gerontology, 47, 64-72                       

 

Research Activity

Current research support

2013-2017: Norwegian University of Life Sciences, $340,000.00 – “Understanding the spread and the persistence of antibiotic resistance genes through the interface hypothesis using honey bees as model”: Role: Co-PI

2017-2018: Norwegian Ministry of Agriculture, $65,000.00 – “Strategies for surveillance and reduction of disease epidemics in honey bees and wild bees in Norway”. Role: WP leader

2017-2021: Research Council of Norway, award # 262137, $1,200,000.00 – “Launching the first vaccination programs for a beneficial, pollinating insect.”. Role: PI

Fall 2017
Course NumberCourse Title
BIO 492Honors Directed Study
MBB 492Honors Directed Study
BIO 493Honors Thesis
BIO 494Special Topics
MBB 495Undergraduate Research
BIO 495Undergraduate Research
BIO 598Special Topics
Spring 2017
Course NumberCourse Title
BIO 360Animal Physiology
BIO 361Animal Physiology Laboratory
BIO 394Special Topics
BIO 492Honors Directed Study
BIO 493Honors Thesis
MBB 495Undergraduate Research
BIO 495Undergraduate Research
Fall 2016
Course NumberCourse Title
MBB 495Undergraduate Research
BIO 495Undergraduate Research
Spring 2016
Course NumberCourse Title
BIO 360Animal Physiology
BIO 394Special Topics
BIO 493Honors Thesis
BIO 495Undergraduate Research
Fall 2015
Course NumberCourse Title
BIO 340General Genetics
BIO 492Honors Directed Study
MBB 495Undergraduate Research
BIO 495Undergraduate Research
Spring 2015
Course NumberCourse Title
BIO 493Honors Thesis
BIO 494Special Topics
MBB 495Undergraduate Research
BIO 495Undergraduate Research
BIO 598Special Topics
Fall 2014
Course NumberCourse Title
BIO 340General Genetics
Spring 2013
Course NumberCourse Title
BIO 360Animal Physiology
BIO 361Animal Physiology Laboratory
BIO 495Undergraduate Research
Honors / Awards

2007: The PEW Charitable Trust. Won the 2007 PEW Scholarship Award in the Biomedical Sciences, $240,000.00. The PEW Charitable Trust selects 15-20 US junior faculty to receive this reward each year

2007: Research Council of Norway. Won the Young Outstanding Researcher Award, given by the YFF Program, $1,600,000.00. Every 5 years, the Research Council selects 20 Norwegian scientists below the age of 45 for this award

2010: Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, Institute for Advanced Study, Germany. WIKO Fellowship, January-February 2010. Project: Participated on the workgroup “Social Insects as a Model System for Evolutionary Developmental Biology”. $2,900.00

2010: Arizona State University. Speaker at the ASU Last Lecture Series. In recognition of outstanding teaching, I was nominated and chosen by ASU undergraduate students to give one of three “Last Lectures” in 2010

2011: Arizona State University. Won the Faculty Achievement Award in Defining Edge Research: Natural Sciences/Math. This award is given to one or two faculty members each year

2012: Norwegian University of Life Sciences: Won the Popular Science Communication Award. The prize is awarded to one faculty member each year. It includes a $9,000 stipend

2012: Morgenbladet (national independent newspaper, Norway): Won the Outstanding Young Scientist Award. The prize was awarded for the first time in 2012. Ten Norwegian scientists were selected by a national academic jury

2013-2014: Center for Advanced Study (CAS), Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters. Won the Academic Workgroup Award, with the project “Ecology of Food Perception”, $600,000.00 (PI). CAS selects 3 winning Workgroup projects each year

2014: The City of Molde: Named an Ambassador for the City of Molde, in the Region of Romsdal, Norway

2015: Discovery Magazine: Our finding of a natural route for honey bee vaccination was featured as one of the top 100 scientific discoveries in 2015

2016: School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University. Nominated to the American Society of Naturalists’ E. O. Wilson Naturalist Award

Service

Sample of media coverage

Arizona Republic, azcentral, February 23. 2017

http://www.azcentral.com/story/sponsor-story/arizona-state-university/2017/02/23/asu-honeybee-decline-threat-to-global-food-supply/98301512/

 

Arizona Highways March 2016, Let Them Bee, pages 26-33

 

Washington Post. 07.31.2015.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2015/07/31/bees-naturally-vaccinate-their-babies-scientists-find/

 

Upworthy. 08.05.2015.

http://www.upworthy.com/scientists-just-made-a-major-bee-vaccination-breakthrough-heres-why-its-such-a-big-deal

 

KJZZ Radio 91.5 08.04.2015. http://kjzz.org/content/174297/asu-research-reveals-how-bees-vaccinate-their-babies

 

Deutschlandfunk (German public radio) 15.09.2015.

http://www.deutschlandfunk.de/tiermedizin-impfung-fuer-bienen.676.de.html?dram:article_id=331216

 

Popular Science, How it works 04.10.2013.

http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2013-03/honeybee-society

 

Skavlan. 10.11.2013. Largest talk show in Scandinavia. http://skavlan.com/en

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bsPGrLC6bkA Part 1

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JC0NZqM_Kc8 Part 2

 

Arizona Republic A-1 story, carried to A-9, two photos, July 3rd, 2012

http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/news/articles/2012/06/27/20120627asu-bee-study-new-social-interactions-heal-older-brains.html

 

CBS Sunday Morning (aired July 8th, 2012)

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-3445_162-57468191/can-bees-lead-to-a-longer-human-life-span/?tag=showDoorLeadStoriesAreaMain;SunMoLeadHero  (interview with Dr. Gro Amdam)

 

Huffington Post (online July 5th, 2012)

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/05/bee-brains-reversal-aging-related-decline_n_1651085.html

 

Scientific American 10.28.2010 http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/old-and-wise/