School of
Integrative Biology
May Berenbaum

216A Morrill Hall / 318B Morrill Hall
Office: 217-333-2910 / 217-333-7784
Lab: (217)333-1165

Mail: 320 Morrill Hall, 505 S. Goodwin Ave, Urbana, IL 61801
Lab Page
Curriculum Vita

May Berenbaum
Professor & Head - Entomology
Professor - Plant Biology
Swanlund Chair


PhD, 1980, Cornell University

Interactions between insects and plants, including herbivores and pollinators, and their implications in the organization of natural communities and agroecosystems

May Berenbaum, Ph.D. has been on the faculty of the Department of Entomology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign since 1980, serving as head since 1992 and as Swanlund Chair of Entomology since 1996. Her work is focused on characterizing biochemical , genetic, and molecular mechanisms underlying interactions between insects and the plants they consume, including detoxification of natural and synthetic chemicals, and for applying ecological principles in developing sustainable management practices for natural and agricultural communities. Her research, supported primarily by NSF and USDA, has produced over 300 refereed scientific publications and 40 book chapters. A member of the National Academy of Sciences, she has chaired two National Research Council committees, the Committee on the Future of Pesticides in U.S. Agriculture (2000) and the Committee on the Status of Pollinators in North America (2007). Devoted to teaching and fostering scientific literacy through formal and informal education, she has authored numerous magazine articles and six books about insects for the general public; on the UIUC campus, she founded outreach efforts including the Insect Fear Film Festival, the citizen-science web portal Beespotter, and the UIUC Pollinatarium. She graduated summa cum laude, with a B.S. degree and honors in biology, from Yale University in 1975 and received a Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology from Cornell University in 1980.

Representative Publications


Berenbaum, M. R., 2009. The Earwig's Tail: A Modern Bestiary of Multi-legged Legends. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Berenbaum, M. R., 2010.  Honey I'm Home-Made: Sweet Treats from the Beehive Across the Centuries and Around the World.  Champaign: University of Illinois Press.

Cytochrome P450 evolution and molecular biology

Johnson RM, A Zayed, B Harpur, K Dogantzis, and MR Berenbaum, 2018. Genomic footprint of evolution of eusociality in bees: floral food use and CYPome “blooms”. Insectes Sociaux 65: 445–454

Berenbaum, M.R., Bush, D.S. and Liao, L.H., 2021. Cytochrome P450-mediated mycotoxin metabolism by plant-feeding insects. Current Opinion in Insect Science, 43: 85-91;

Wen, Z., RS  Zeng, G Niu, MR Berenbaum and MA Schuler. 2009.  Ecological significance of induction of broad-substrate cytochrome P450s by natural and synthetic inducers in Helicoverpa zea. J. Chem. Ecol. 35: 183-189

Zeng R, Z Wen. G Niu, MA Schuler and MR Berenbaum, 2009.  Enhanced toxicity and induction of cytochrome P450s suggest a cost of "eavesdropping" in a multitrophic interaction.  J. Chem. Ecol. 35:526-532.

Lee, S.H., J. S. Kang, J. S. Min, K.S. Yoon, J. P. Strycharz, R. Johnson, O. Mittapalli, V M Bargam, W Sun, H M Li, J Xie, J Wu, E F Kirkness, M R Berenbaum, B R Pittendrigh, J M Clark, 2010.  Decreased detoxification genes and genome size make the human body louse an efficient model to study xenobiotic metabolism.  Insect Molecular Biology 19: 599-615.

McDonnell, CM, D King, J M. Comeron, H Li, W Sun, MR Berenbaum, MA Schuler, and BR Pittendrigh, 2012. Evolutionary toxicogenomics: diversification of the Cyp12d1 and Cyp12d3 genes in Drosophila species. Journal of Molecular Evolution 74: 281-296.

Schuler, MA and MR Berenbaum, 2013. Structure and function of cytochrome P450s in insect adaptation to natural and synthetic toxins: insights gained from molecular modeling. Journal of Chemical Ecology 39: 1232-1245, DOI 10.1007/s10886-013-0335-7.

Ecological impacts of biofuel feedstock production

Nabity, P.D., A. R. Zangerl, M. R. Berenbaum, E. DeLucia, 2011.  Bioenergy crops Miscanthus x giganteus and switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) reduce growth and survivorship of Spodoptera frugiperda (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae). J. Econ. Entomol.104: 459-464.

Miresmailli, S, M Zeri, AR Zangerl, CJ Bernacchi, MR Berenbaum and EH DeLucia, 2012. Impacts of herbaceous energy crops on atmospheric volatile organic composition and potential consequences for global climate change. Global Change Biology: Energy DOI: 10.1111/j.1757-1707.2012.01189.x

Nabity, PD, R Orpet, S Miresmailli, MR Berenbaum, EH DeLucia, 2012. Silica and nitrogen modulate physical defense against herbivores in bioenergy crops Miscanthus x giganteus and Panicum virgatum.J Econ Entomol. 105: 878-883

Zangerl, AR, S Miresmailli, P Nabity, A Lawrance, A Yanahan, CA Mitchell, KJ Anderson-Teixeira, MB David, MR Berenbaum and EH DeLucia, 2012. Role of arthropod community and trophic structure in bioenergy crop litter decomposition. Insect Science DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-7917.2012.01532.x

Harrison, TL and MR Berenbaum, 2013. Moth diversity in three biofuel crops and native prairie in Illinois. Insect Science DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-7917.2012.01530.x

Honey bee toxicology

Berenbaum, M.R. and B. Calla, 2021. Honey as a functional food for honey bees. Annual Review of Entomology 66: 185-208;

Johnson R.M., J. Evans, G. E. Robinson and M. R. Berenbaum, 2009. Changes in transcript expression relating to colony collapse disorder in Apis mellifera. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 106: 14790-14795.

Mao, W., R. M. Johnson, S. Rupasinghe, M. A. Schuler and M. R. Berenbaum, 2009. Quercetin-metabolizing CYP6AS enzymes of the pollinator Apis mellifera (Hymenoptera: Apidae). Comp Biochem Physiol C: Toxicology and Pharmacology 154: 427-434.   doi: 10.1016/j.cbpb.2009.08.008

Mao W, MA Schuler and MR Berenbaum, 2011. CYP9Q-mediated detoxification of acaricides in the honey bee (Apis mellifera).  Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 31: 12657-12662.

Johnson, RM, W Mao, HS Pollock, G Niu, MA Schuler and MR Berenbaum, 2012. Ecologically appropriate xenobiotics induce cytochrome P450s in Apis mellifera. PLoS ONE 7(2): e31051. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0031051

Mao, W, MA Schuler and MR Berenbaum, 2013. Honey constituents upregulate detoxification and immunity genes in the western honey bee Apis mellifera. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 110: 8842-8846. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1303884110

Impacts of global climate change on plant-insect interactions

Gog, L., M.R. Berenbaum, E.H. DeLucia, 2019. Mediation of impacts of elevated CO2 and light environment on Arabidopsis thaliana (L.) chemical defense against insect herbivory via photosynthesis. J. Chem. Ecol. 45: 61-73.

O’Neill, B., A. Zangerl, E. DeLucia, C Casteel, J Zavala, M. Berenbaum, 2011.  Leaf temperature of soybean grown under elevated CO2 increases Aphis glycines (Hemiptera: Aphididae) population growth. Insect Science(2011) 00, 1–7, DOI 10.1111/j.1744-7917.2011.01420.x (global climate change special

Casteel, CL, LM Segal, OK Niziolek, MR Berenbaum and EH DeLucia, 2012. Elevated carbon dioxide increases salicylic acid in Glycine max. Environmental Entomology 41(6):1435-1442.

Hamilton J, AR. Zangerl, MR Berenbaum , J Sparks, L Elich, A Gattis,  A Eisenstein, and E DeLucia,  2012. Elevated atmospheric CO2 alters arthropod community structure in a forest understory. Acta Oecologica 43: 80-85.

DeLucia, EH, PD Nabity, JA Zavala, MR Berenbaum, 2012. Climate change: resetting plant-insect interactions. Plant Physiol. doi: http:/​/​dx.​doi.​org/​10.​1104/​pp.​112.​204750  pp.112.204750

Niziolek O, MR Berenbaum, E DeLucia, 2012. Impact of elevated CO2 and increased temperature on Japanese beetle herbivory. Insect Science DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-7917.2012.01515.x

Insect-plant coevolution: parsnip webworms and wild parsnips

Calla B, WY Wu, CE Dean, MA Schuler, MR Berenbaum, 2019. Substrate-specificity of cytochrome P450-mediated detoxification as an evolutionary strategy for specialization on furanocoumarin-containing hostplants: CYP6AE89 in parsnip webworms. Insect Molecular Biology, 29(1), 112-123. doi: 10.1111/imb.12612

Zangerl, AR , M. C. Stanley and MR Berenbaum, 2008. Selection for chemical trait remixing in an invasive weed after reassociation with a coevolved specialist Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 105: 4547-4552.

Zangerl AR and MR Berenbaum, 2009. Effects of florivory on floral volatile emissions and pollination success in the wild parsnip. Arthropod-Plant Interactions 3:181-191

Lampert, E.C., A. R. Zangerl, M. R. Berenbaum, and P. J. Ode, 2011. Generalist and specialist host-parasitoid associations respond differently to effects of wild parsnip (Pastinaca sativa) defensive chemistry.  Ecological Entomology 35: DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2311.2010.10244.x

Zangerl, AR, T Jogesh, L-H. Liao and MR Berenbaum, 2012. Aliphatic esters as targets of esterase activity in the parsnip webworm (Depressaria pastinacella). J. Chem. Ecol. 38: 188-194 DOI 10.1007/s10886-012-0073-2

Jogesh, T., AR Zangerl, MA Stanley and MR Berenbaum, 2013. Effects of enemy escape on interactions with mutualists: wild parsnip pollination in two hemispheres. Journal of Pollination Ecology 11: 57-67.

Navel orangeworm detoxification

Demkovich, M., B. Calla, J. Siegel, and M.R. Berenbaum, 2020. Selective sweeps in a nutshell: the genomic footprint of rapid insecticide resistance evolution in the almond agroecosystem. Genome Biology and Evolution evaa234,

Niu, G., J. Siegel, M.A. Schuler and M.R. Berenbaum. 2009. Comparison of toxicity and metabolism of mycotoxins (aflatoxin B1 and ochratoxin A) between two lepidopterans: Helicoverpa zea and Amyelois transitella. J. Chemical Ecology 35: 951-957. doi: 10.1007/s10886-009-9675-8

Niu. G., S. G. Rupasinghe, A.R. Zangerl, J P. Siegel, M A. Schuler, M. R. Berenbaum, 2011. A substrate-specific cytochrome P450 monooxygenase, CYP6AB11, from the polyphagous navel orangeworm (Amyelois transitella). Insect Biochem. Mol. Biol. 41: 244-253. doi:

Niu, G., H. S. Pollock, A. Lawrance, J. Siegel, and M. R. Berenbaum.  2012. Effects of a naturally occurring and a synthetic synergist on the toxicity of three insecticides and a phytochemicals to the navel orangeworm Amyelois transitella (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae).  Journal of Economic Entomology 105: 410-417.

Other projects

Wagner, D.L., Grames, E.M., Forister, M.L., Berenbaum, M.R. and Stopak, D., 2021. Insect decline in the Anthropocene: Death by a thousand cuts. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 118 (2) e2023989118;

Njoroge, T., B. Calla, M.R. Berenbaum, C.M. Stone, 2021. Specific phytochemicals in floral nectar up-regulate genes involved in longevity regulation and xenobiotic metabolism, extending mosquito life span. Ecology and Evolution 11: 8363-8380.

Knolhoff, L M., J. J. Glas, J. L. Spencer, M. R. Berenbaum, 2010. Oviposition behavior in relation to rotation resistance in the western corn rootworm. Environmental Entomology 39: 1922-1928.

Muturi, EJ, C-H Kim, BA Alto, MA Schuler, MR Berenbaum, 2011. Larval environmental stress alters Aedes aegypti development and competence for a model arbovirus.  Trop Med Int Health 16: 955-964 (doi:10.1111/j.1365-3156.2011.02796.x)

Nabity PD, MJ Haus, MR Berenbaum, EH DeLucia, 2013. Leaf-galling phylloxera on grapes reprogram host metabolism and morphology. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 110: 16663-16668.

Harrison TL, MR Berenbaum, 2013. A new, prairie-restricted species of Anacampsis Curtis (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae) from Illinois.  Zootaxa 3741 (1): 194-200.

Randrianandrasana M, HA Razafindraleva, MR Berenbaum, 2014. Host plant records of Antherina suraka Boisduval 1883 (Saturniidae) in Madagascar.  J. Lep. Soc. 68 (2): 130-140.