Faculty of Science

Celebrating 50 Years, Faculty of Science, York University

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7 CREATING A BUZZ AMRO ZAYED & LAURENCE PACKER I MAGINE A WORLD where fruit, vegetables, nuts, coffee and other food crops were not available, or were significantly more expensive. A world where many flowers do not get pollinated, and all the things that feed upon those flowering plants are lost. This hypothetical world, according to York's renowned bee researchers Professors Laurence Packer and Amro Zayed (BSc '01, PhD '06), is one in which bees do not exist. Bees pollinate almost 90 per cent of the world's flowers and so, some say, are responsible for perhaps one third of our food. Packer and Zayed endeavour to make major advances in bee research and conservation. "We have one of the biggest and most diverse bee research groups in the world here at York," says Packer. "With my expertise in bee behaviour, taxonomy and conservation, and Amro's expertise in genetics, evolution and genomics of bees, we form a globally unbeatable team." Zayed praises York as a world leader in bee research. "York is one of the best places in the world to do research on bees," he says. "The diversity of tools, questions and skills that our groups bring to the table are truly amazing." York's bee experts have the capacity to study more than 80 per cent of the world's bee diversity, with bees from over 100 countries. They have the biggest collection of bees in the country and certainly one of the fastest growing in the world. Packer and Zayed have a long history of fruitful collaborations, starting when Zayed was a PhD student in Packer's lab from 2000 to 2006. "As a PhD student in my lab, Amro made major advances in bee conservation genetics. When he went to the University of Illinois for his postdoctoral research, he very quickly became a leader in honey bee population genomics," says Packer. "Now that he's back at York and has a well established lab, we'll be able to collaborate in even greater depth." Zayed's lab aims to understand how and why social behaviour evolves in bees, and examines the genetics behind the behaviour of workers in social insects. His research also seeks to develop tools to improve the declining health of managed honey bee colonies. For example, his group LEFT: Amro Zayed WHY YORK IS ONE OF THE BEST PLACES IN THE WORLD TO DO BEE RESEARCH

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