Professor Irene Newton: Inside the Honey Bee Gut

Professor Irene Newton: Inside the Honey Bee Gut

"The honey bee gut is home to varied and diverse bacterial species," says Professor Irene Garcia Newton of Indiana University, Bloomington, who studies host-associated microbes.

She'll present a Department of Entomology and Nematology Seminar on "Friends with Benefits: Protective Microbial Symbiosis in the Honey Bee" at 4:10 p.m., Wednesday, May 10 in 122 Briggs Hall. Her lecture also will be virtual. The Zoom link:

"The most important agricultural insect, the honey bee, houses multiple bacterial symbionts that provide distinct benefits under environmental stress," Newton says in her abstract. "Our lab has been at the forefront of identification and characterization of the honey bee microbiome, using a polyphasic approach combining in vivo, in vitro, microbiological, and 'omics assays. I will present our most recent results on the microbe Bombella apis - who it is, what it's doing in association with the bee, and its evolution in symbiosis."

A pre-seminar coffee will take place from 3:30 to 4:10 p.m. in 158 Briggs. 

Irene, a first-generation, Latina scientist, received her doctorate from Harvard University in 2008 and served as a postdoctoral fellow at Tufts University from  2008 to 2010. She grew up in south Florida, the daughter of immigrant parents from Cuba and the Dominican Republic. She began her research experience as an undergraduate student at Swarthmore College under Rachel Merz.

She continued her training as a Howard Hughes predoctoral fellow with Colleen Cavanaugh at Harvard University, where she completed her dissertation, focused on functional genomics in deep sea hydrothermal vent symbionts. She joined the faculty of Indiana University in 2011.

"The Newton Laboratory is broadly interested in host-associated microbes," she writes on her website. "We study who those microbes are, what those microbes are doing, how they persist and infect and what the consequences are to their genomic evolution. Projects in the laboratory range from highly mechanistic and cell biological to ecological and bioinformatic."

For her work with IU students, she won the Outstanding Mentor Award (2022) and the Trustees Teaching Award (2017). Her other honors include American Academy of Microbiology Fellow, 2023; American Society for Microbiology Honorary Diversity Lecturer Award, 2023; American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow, and 2022 Woodrow Wilson Foundation Fellow, 2013.

Department seminar coordinator is urban landscape entomologist Emily Meineke,  assistant professor.   For technical issues regarding Zoom connections, she may be reached at (See complete list of spring seminars.)