LE STUDIUM Research Fellow
In residence at
Prof. Jérôme Casas
Steve Foster was awarded a PhD in chemistry at the University of Waikato (New Zealand). Afterwards, he obtained a position at the Entomology Division of DSIR in Auckland (New Zealand) where he worked on insect chemical ecology until accepting a position in the Department of Entomology at North Dakota State University (USA) in 2000. He is a professor in entomology (School of Natural Resource Sciences) at NDSU, where he teaches Insect Physiology and works primarily on the metabolic nature of insect chemical communication. In recent years his research has focused on the use of stable isotope tracers to study quantitative metabolism in insects. He has been an Associate Editor for the Journal of Chemical Ecology since 2006 and is a past President and Secretary of the International Society of Chemical Ecology.
Stable isotope methods for insect physiology
In terms of number of species and total biomass, insects are probably the most successful group of animals on the planet. We know them as impacting our lives in both positive and negative ways, e.g., as crop pollinators or crop pests. One reason for the success of insects is their extraordinary ability to utilize nutrients in order to increase their reproduction. Although broad patterns of nutrient use for reproduction have been established, studies on the direct usage of nutrients in specific reproductive physiologies of insects are less common. In part, this is because there is a paucity of convenient methods available for studying the allocation of nutrients to specific insect physiologies. In this proposal, we aim to combine the complementary skills of the applicant and host to develop specific stable isotope tracer/tracee methods for studying quantitative nutrient allocation to insect physiologies. The use of stable over radioactive isotope tracer methods has numerous advantages, including handling convenience, waste disposal and the use of nondedicated laboratory facilities. During the duration of this proposal, we will develop methods that will allow us to determine: (1) the production,storage and release of sex attractant (pheromone) in moths and (2) how parasitoid wasps use nutrients obtained from host feeding for metabolism and reproduction. In addition to providing stable isotope tracer/tracer tools for studying insect physiologies and metabolism, the work will add to our knowledge of sustainable pest control methods using behavior-modifying chemicals (semiochemicals) and biological control.
Recent significant publication
Foster, S.P. and K.G. Anderson (2020). Sex pheromone biosynthesis, storage and release in a female moth: making a little go a long way. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 2020. 287(1941): p. 20202775.