School of
Integrative Biology

SIB News

Have you become obsessed with bugs or hummingbirds? In the pandemic, you’re not alone.

In the midst of the grief, confusion and anger of the past few months, many Americans have developed a new obsession with the creepy little things in life, by which I mean bugs.

I’ve never heard so many people talking about bugs as I have through this spring and summer, never seen so many social media posts dedicated to tiny critters that buzz and crawl and sting.

In times of ecological uncertainty, brood parasites hedge their bets

Some birds lay their eggs in the nests of other bird species and let the host parents raise their young. A new study finds that in times of environmental flux, these brood parasites “diversify their portfolios,” minimizing the risks of their unorthodox lifestyle by increasing the number and variety of hosts they select as adoptive parents.

Study reveals unique physical, chemical properties of cicada wings

Scientists, including entomology professor Marianne Alleyne, are exploring the structural and chemical characteristics of cicada wings.

Biological structures sometimes have unique features that engineers would like to copy. For example, many types of insect wings shed water, kill microbes, reflect light in unusual ways and are self-cleaning.

Illinois Team Tracks COVID ‘Spike’ Protein for 2020 iGEM Competition

The COVID-19 pandemic created unprecedented challenges for a worldwide competition that brings high school and college students together to tackle big questions in synthetic biology.

But it also provided a unique research opportunity for the University of Illinois team competing in this year’s International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) Competition.

Scientists further cowpea research—boosting canopy CO2 assimilation, water-use efficiency

Crops grow dense canopies that consist of several layers of leaves—the upper layers with younger sun leaves and the lower layers with older shaded leaves that may have difficulty intercepting sunlight trickling down from the top layers.

In a recent study published in Food and Energy Security...

Building a prairie & watching for bees with ESA Fellow Alex Harmon-Threatt

Join us in celebrating Entomology's Alexandra Harmon-Threatt, elected as a 2020 Early Career Fellow by the Ecological Society of America (ESA) for her critically important research in the ecology and conservation of native bee species: training the next generation of ecologists, providing public outreach, and enhancing diversity in science. Read more about her research:

It’s early evening as I follow the researchers to their work site on the Phillips Tract, just east of Urbana. When we get there...

Study of giant ant heads using simple models may aid bio-inspired designs

Researchers have developed a simple model to study how ants balance their large heads relative to their body size. Such models may have useful applications in bio-inspired designs. They use a variety of modelling approaches to study form and function. By using a basic biomechanical model for studying body form and center of mass stability in ants, new research identifies the benefits of “simple models” and hope that it can be used for bio-inspired designs.

Group genomics drive aggression in honey bees

Researchers often study the genomes of individual organisms to try to tease out the relationship between genes and behavior. A new study of Africanized honey bees reveals, however, that the genetic inheritance of individual bees has little influence on their propensity for aggression. Instead, the genomic traits of the hive as a whole are strongly associated with how fiercely its soldiers attack.

The findings are reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Cowbirds change their eggs’ sex ratio based on breeding time

Brown-headed cowbirds show a bias in the sex ratio of their offspring depending on the time of the breeding season, researchers report in a new study. More female than male offspring hatch early in the breeding season in May, and more male hatchlings emerge in July.

How Humanity Unleashed a Flood of New Diseases

What do Covid-19, Ebola, Lyme and AIDS have in common? They jumped to humans from animals after we started destroying habitats and ruining ecosystems.