1. Kansas State University
  2. »Division of Communications and Marketing
  3. »K-State Today
  4. »Phillip Shults to present Division of Biology Seminar

K-State Today

March 21, 2024

Phillip Shults to present Division of Biology Seminar

Submitted by Division of Biology

Phillip Shults, research entomologist at the USDA Agricultural Research Service, will present "The Diversity of Alleles" as part of the Division of Biology Seminar Series at 3:30 p.m. Monday, March 25, in Room 221 of Ackert Hall.

The diversity of alleles within an individual or population is informative for numerous research fields including medical diagnostics, forensics sciences and biology. The type of markers and how they are analyzed can vary widely, but this also allows for flexibility in their application. Much of Shults' work has focused on studying the population genetics of both pest and vector insects while attempting to utilize allelic diversity in innovative ways. For example, most pesticide efficacy trials rely solely on raw insect counts to determine if a product achieved control. Shults' team developed microsatellite markers to perform colony-level assignment of field-collected ants and termites. This allowed them to track the fate of individual colonies within a study area and more thoroughly evaluate a product.

Additionally, as some pest species are also invasive, the use of population genetics can be used to predict an invasive population's origin. In a species of termite, human-mediated dispersal was believed to be the route of introduction, but surprisingly, could also be shaping the population structure in its native range.

Finally, the line between what is a species is often ambiguous. We used a multi-marker approach to delimit the species within a complex of biting midges. The mitochondrial and nuclear data were discordant, but this information aided in the development of a PCR-based assay to identify an important vector species. Hopefully, these works highlight the versatility of allelic diversity.

If you would like to visit with Shults, please contact Ari Jumpponen at ari@k-state.edu