Publications by authors named "Benjamin W Lee"

15 Publications

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Responses to predation risk cues and alarm pheromones affect plant virus transmission by an aphid vector.

Oecologia 2021 Aug 15;196(4):1005-1015. Epub 2021 Jul 15.

Department of Entomology, Washington State University, 166 FSHN Building, Pullman, WA, 99164, USA.

Herbivores assess predation risk in their environment by identifying visual, chemical, and tactile predator cues. Detection of predator cues can induce risk-avoidance behaviors in herbivores that affect feeding, dispersal, and host selection in ways that minimize mortality and reproductive costs. For herbivores that transmit plant pathogens, including many aphids, changes in herbivore behavior in response to predator cues may also affect pathogen spread. However, few studies have assessed how aphid behavioral responses to different types of predator cues affect pathogen transmission. Here, we conducted greenhouse experiments to assess whether responses of pea aphids (Acyrthosiphon pisum) to predation risk and alarm pheromone (E-β-Farnesene), an aphid alarm signal released in response to predation risk, affected transmission of Pea enation mosaic virus (PEMV). We exposed A. pisum individuals to risk cues, and quantified viral titer in aphids and pea (Pisum sativum) host plants across several time periods. We also assessed how A. pisum responses to risk cues affected aphid nutrition, reproduction, and host selection. We show that exposure to predator cues and alarm pheromone significantly reduced PEMV acquisition and inoculation. Although vectors avoided hosts with predator cues, predator cues did not alter vector reproduction or reduce nutrient acquisition. Overall, these results suggest that non-consumptive effects of predators may indirectly decrease the spread of plant pathogens by altering vector behavior in ways that reduce vector competence and pathogen transmission efficiency.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00442-021-04989-6DOI Listing
August 2021

Insect alarm pheromones in response to predators: Ecological trade-offs and molecular mechanisms.

Insect Biochem Mol Biol 2021 01 23;128:103514. Epub 2020 Dec 23.

Department of Entomology, Washington State University, Pullman, WA, USA.

Insect alarm pheromones are chemical substances that are synthesized and released in response to predators to reduce predation risk. Alarm pheromones can also be perceived by predators, who take advantage of alarm cues to locate prey. While selection favors evolution of alarm pheromone signals that are not easily detectable by predators, predator evolution selects for better prey detection ability. Here, we review the diversity of alarm signals, and consider the behavioral and ecological conditions under which they have evolved. We show that components of alarm pheromones are similar across many insects, although aphids exhibit different behavioral responses to alarm cues compared to social insects. The effects of alarm pheromones on prey behavior depend on factors such as the concentration of pheromones and the density of conspecifics. We also discuss the molecular mechanisms of alarm pheromone perception underlying the evolutionary arms race between predators and prey, and the function of olfactory proteins and receptors in particular. Our review provides a novel synthesis of the diversity and function of insect alarm pheromones, while suggesting avenues that might better allow researchers to exploit population-level responses to alarm signaling for the sustainable management of pests and vector-borne pathogens.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ibmb.2020.103514DOI Listing
January 2021

Synergisms in Science: Climate Change and Integrated Pest Management Through the Lens of Communication-2019 Student Debates.

J Insect Sci 2020 Sep;20(5)

Department of Entomology, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA.

Every year, the Student Debates Subcommittee (SDS) of the Student Affairs Committee (SAC) for the annual Entomological Society of America (ESA) meeting organizes the Student Debates. This year, the SAC selected topics based on their synergistic effect or ability to ignite exponential positive change when addressed as a whole. For the 2019 Student Debates, the SAC SDS identified these topic areas for teams to debate and unbiased introduction speakers to address: 1) how to better communicate science to engage the public, particularly in the area of integrated pest management (IPM), 2) the influential impacts of climate change on agriculturally and medically relevant insect pests, and 3) sustainable agriculture techniques that promote the use of IPM to promote food security. Three unbiased introduction speakers gave a foundation for our audience to understand each debate topic, while each of six debate teams provided a strong case to support their stance or perspective on a topic. Debate teams submitted for a competitive spot for the annual ESA Student Debates and trained for the better part of a year to showcase their talents in presenting logical arguments for a particular topic. Both the debate teams and unbiased introduction speakers provided their insight toward a better understanding of the complexities of each topic and established a foundation to delve further into the topics of science advocacy and communication, climate change, and the many facets of integrated pest management.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jisesa/ieaa077DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7759723PMC
September 2020

Tri-trophic interactions mediate the spread of a vector-borne plant pathogen.

Ecology 2019 11 20;100(11):e02879. Epub 2019 Sep 20.

Department of Entomology, Washington State University, Pullman, Washington, 99164, USA.

Many insect herbivores are vectors that transmit plant pathogens as they forage. Within food webs, vectors interact with a range of host plants, other herbivores, and predators. Yet, few studies have examined how tri-trophic interactions involving vectors affect the spread of pathogens. Here we assessed effects of food web structure on aphid vectors and the prevalence of an aphid-borne persistent pathogen (Pea enation mosaic virus, PEMV) in pea plants. We experimentally manipulated ladybird predators, alternative host plants, and non-vector herbivores and assessed responses of pea aphids and PEMV using structural equation models. We show that variation in bottom-up, top-down, and horizontal interactions mediated PEMV prevalence. Predators reduced PEMV prevalence by consuming aphids, but an alternative host plant (vetch) had the opposite effect by promoting aphid movement and abundance. Non-vector herbivores (pea leaf weevil) increased PEMV susceptibility in peas. In turn, weevils offset the positive effects of predators on PEMV, but increased the negative effects of vetch. Our results show that tri-trophic interactions within insect and plant food webs can mediate vector biology with synergistic and opposing effects on pathogens. Continuing to assess how community-wide interactions affect vectors will aid in our understanding of vector-borne pathosystems.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ecy.2879DOI Listing
November 2019

Entomology in the 21st Century: Tackling Insect Invasions, Promoting Advancements in Technology, and Using Effective Science Communication-2018 Student Debates.

J Insect Sci 2019 Jul;19(4)

University of Minnesota, Department of Entomology, St Paul, MN.

The 2018 student debates of the Entomological Society of America were held at the Joint Annual Meeting for the Entomological Societies of America, Canada, and British Columbia in Vancouver, BC. Three unbiased introductory speakers and six debate teams discussed and debated topics under the theme 'Entomology in the 21st Century: Tackling Insect Invasions, Promoting Advancements in Technology, and Using Effective Science Communication'. This year's debate topics included: 1) What is the most harmful invasive insect species in the world? 2) How can scientists diffuse the stigma or scare factor surrounding issues that become controversial such as genetically modified organisms, agricultural biotechnological developments, or pesticide chemicals? 3) What new/emerging technologies have the potential to revolutionize entomology (other than Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats)? Introductory speakers and debate teams spent approximately 9 mo preparing their statements and arguments and had the opportunity to share this at the Joint Annual Meeting with an engaged audience.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jisesa/iez069DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6608551PMC
July 2019

Cardiac recovery via extended cell-free delivery of extracellular vesicles secreted by cardiomyocytes derived from induced pluripotent stem cells.

Nat Biomed Eng 2018 May 23;2(5):293-303. Epub 2018 Apr 23.

Department of Medicine, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA.

The ability of extracellular vesicles (EVs) to regulate a broad range of cellular processes has recently been exploited for the treatment of diseases. For example, EVs secreted by stem cells injected into infarcted hearts can induce recovery through the delivery of stem-cell-specific miRNAs. However, the retention of the EVs and the therapeutic effects are short-lived. Here, we show that an engineered hydrogel patch capable of slowly releasing EVs secreted from cardiomyocytes derived from induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells reduced arrhythmic burden, promoted ejection-fraction recovery, decreased cardiomyocyte apoptosis 24 hours after infarction, and reduced infarct size and cell hypertrophy 4 weeks post-infarction when implanted onto infarcted rat hearts. We also show that the EVs are enriched with cardiac-specific miRNAs known to modulate cardiomyocyte-specific processes. The extended delivery of EVs secreted from iPS-cell-derived cardiomyocytes into the heart may help understand heart recovery and treat heart injury.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41551-018-0229-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6159913PMC
May 2018

An Assessment of the Physiological Costs of Autogenous Defenses in Native and Introduced Lady Beetles.

Environ Entomol 2018 08;47(4):1030-1038

Department of Entomology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.

Many lady beetles expel an autogenously produced alkaloid-rich 'reflex blood' as an antipredator defense. We conducted an experiment to determine whether there was a measurable fitness cost associated with the daily induction of this defensive behavior, and whether costs differed between native (Coccinella novemnotata Herbst (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae)) and invasive species (Coccinella septempunctata L. (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae) and Harmonia axyridis (Pallas) (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae)). Newly mated females were provided a restricted or unrestricted amount of aphids and were bled for 10 d. We measured the mass of reflex blood produced and the total number and viability of eggs laid per day. The amount of reflex blood released per day increased for C. septempunctata at the restricted level and did not change for any other species-diet level combination. We did not detect a significant cost of reflex bleeding on the quantity or viability of eggs laid by any species, even at the restricted aphid level. Remarkably, bled individuals at the ad libitum level laid significantly more viable eggs compared to controls. All species laid significantly fewer total eggs (49-69% fewer) at the low versus high aphid level. These results demonstrate that while resource scarcity has a negative impact on fecundity, repeated use of the reflex bleeding defense system does not. These results support the findings of other reports and strongly suggest that adult lady beetles incur no measurable physiological costs related to the induction of the reflex-bleeding defense.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ee/nvy068DOI Listing
August 2018

Additive manufacturing of hydrogel-based materials for next-generation implantable medical devices.

Sci Robot 2017 01;2(2)

Department of Biomedical Engineering, Columbia University, 351 Engineering Terrace, 1210 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY 10027, USA.

Implantable microdevices often have static components rather than moving parts, and exhibit limited biocompatibility. This paper demonstrates a fast manufacturing method which can produce features in biocompatible materials down to tens of microns in scale, with intricate and composite patterns in each layer. By exploiting unique mechanical properties of hydrogels, we developed a "locking mechanism" for precise actuation and movement of freely moving parts, which can provide functions such as valves, manifolds, rotors, pumps, and delivery of payloads. Hydrogel components could be tuned within a wide range of mechanical and diffusive properties, and can be controlled after implantation without a sustained power supply. In a mouse model of osteosarcoma, triggering of release of doxorubicin from the device over ten days showed high treatment efficacy and low toxicity, at one-tenth of a standard systemic chemotherapy dose. Overall, this platform, called "iMEMS", enables development of biocompatible implantable microdevices with a wide range of intricate moving components that can be wirelessly controlled on demand, in a manner that solves issues of device powering and biocompatibility.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/scirobotics.aah6451DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6615760PMC
January 2017

Recapitulating the Size and Cargo of Tumor Exosomes in a Tissue-Engineered Model.

Theranostics 2016 21;6(8):1119-30. Epub 2016 May 21.

1. Department of Biomedical Engineering, Columbia University, New York, New York 10032, USA;

There is a growing interest in the pivotal role of exosomes in cancer and in their use as biomarkers. However, despite the importance of the microenvironment for cancer initiation and progression, monolayer cultures of tumor cells still represent the main in vitro source of exosomes. As a result, their environmental regulation remains largely unknown. Here, we report a three-dimensional tumor model for studying exosomes, using Ewing's sarcoma type 1 as a clinically relevant example. The bioengineered model was designed based on the hypothesis that the 3-dimensionality, composition and stiffness of the tumor matrix are the critical determinants of the size and cargo of exosomes released by the cancer cells. We analyzed the effects of the tumor microenvironment on exosomes, and the effects of exosomes on the non-cancer cells from the bone niche. Exosomes from the tissue-engineered tumor had similar size distribution as those in the patients' plasma, and were markedly smaller than those in monolayer cultures. Bioengineered tumors and the patients' plasma contained high levels of the Polycomb histone methyltransferase EZH2 mRNA relatively to their monolayer counterparts. Notably, EZH2 mRNA, a potential tumor biomarker detectable in blood plasma, could be transferred to the surrounding mesenchymal stem cells. This study provides the first evidence that an in vitro culture environment can recapitulate some properties of tumor exosomes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.7150/thno.13944DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4893640PMC
October 2017

Modular Assembly Approach to Engineer Geometrically Precise Cardiovascular Tissue.

Adv Healthc Mater 2016 Apr 10;5(8):900-6. Epub 2016 Feb 10.

Laboratory for Stem Cells and Tissue Engineering, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Columbia University, New York, NY, 10027, USA.

This modular assembly approach to microfabricate functional cardiovascular tissue composites enables quantitative assessment of the effects of microarchitecture on cellular function. Cardiac and endothelial modules are micromolded separately, designed to direct cardiomyocyte alignment and anisotropic contraction or vascular network formation. Assembled cardiovascular tissue composites contract synchronously, facilitating the use of this tissue-engineering platform to study structure-function relationships in the heart.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/adhm.201500956DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4836958PMC
April 2016

Autonomous beating rate adaptation in human stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes.

Nat Commun 2016 Jan 19;7:10312. Epub 2016 Jan 19.

Department of Biomedical Engineering, Columbia University, New York, New York 10027, USA.

The therapeutic success of human stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes critically depends on their ability to respond to and integrate with the surrounding electromechanical environment. Currently, the immaturity of human cardiomyocytes derived from stem cells limits their utility for regenerative medicine and biological research. We hypothesize that biomimetic electrical signals regulate the intrinsic beating properties of cardiomyocytes. Here we show that electrical conditioning of human stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes in three-dimensional culture promotes cardiomyocyte maturation, alters their automaticity and enhances connexin expression. Cardiomyocytes adapt their autonomous beating rate to the frequency at which they were stimulated, an effect mediated by the emergence of a rapidly depolarizing cell population, and the expression of hERG. This rate-adaptive behaviour is long lasting and transferable to the surrounding cardiomyocytes. Thus, electrical conditioning may be used to promote cardiomyocyte maturation and establish their automaticity, with implications for cell-based reduction of arrhythmia during heart regeneration.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ncomms10312DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4735644PMC
January 2016

Assembly of complex cell microenvironments using geometrically docked hydrogel shapes.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2013 Mar 4;110(12):4551-6. Epub 2013 Mar 4.

Departments of Biomedical Engineering, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, NY 10032, USA.

Cellular communities in living tissues act in concert to establish intricate microenvironments, with complexity difficult to recapitulate in vitro. We report a method for docking numerous cellularized hydrogel shapes (100-1,000 µm in size) into hydrogel templates to construct 3D cellular microenvironments. Each shape can be uniquely designed to contain customizable concentrations of cells and molecular species, and can be placed into any spatial configuration, providing extensive compositional and geometric tunability of shape-coded patterns using a highly biocompatible hydrogel material. Using precisely arranged hydrogel shapes, we investigated migratory patterns of human mesenchymal stem cells and endothelial cells. We then developed a finite element gradient model predicting chemotactic directions of cell migration in micropatterned cocultures that were validated by tracking ∼2,500 individual cell trajectories. This simple yet robust hydrogel platform provides a comprehensive approach to the assembly of 3D cell environments.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1300569110DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3607001PMC
March 2013

Strongly binding cell-adhesive polypeptides of programmable valencies.

Angew Chem Int Ed Engl 2010 Mar;49(11):1971-5

Department of Biomedical Engineering, Columbia University, 1210 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY 10027, USA.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/anie.200906482DOI Listing
March 2010

Effect of volume- and time-based constraints on capture of analytes in microfluidic heterogeneous immunoassays.

Lab Chip 2008 Dec 5;8(12):2062-70. Epub 2008 Nov 5.

Department of Biomedical Engineering, Columbia University, 351 Engineering Terrace, 1210 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY 10027, USA.

Despite the prevalence of microfluidic-based heterogeneous immunoassays (where analytes in solution are captured on a solid surface functionalized with a capture molecule), there is incomplete understanding of how assay parameters influence the amount of captured analytes. This study presents computational results and corresponding experimental binding assays in which the capture of analytes is studied under variations in both mass transfer and surface binding, constrained by real-world assay conditions of finite sample volume, assay time, and capture area. Our results identify: 1) a "reagent-limited" regime which exists only under the constraints of finite sample volume and assay time; 2) a critical flow rate (e.g. 0.5 microL min(-1) under our assay conditions) to gain the maximum signal with the fastest assay time; 3) an increase in signal by using a short concentrated plug (e.g. 5 microL, 100 nM) rather than a long dilute plug (e.g. 50 microL, 10 nM) of sample; 4) the possibility of spending a considerable fraction of the assay time out of the reaction-limited regime. Overall, an improved understanding of fundamental physical processes may be particularly beneficial for the design of point-of-care assays, where volumes of reagents and available samples are limited, and the desired time-to-result short.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1039/b813350fDOI Listing
December 2008

Major depression and emergency medical services utilization in community-dwelling elderly persons with disabilities.

Int J Geriatr Psychiatry 2008 Dec;23(12):1276-82

Department of Community and Preventive Medicine, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY 14642, USA.

Objective: To examine the association between major depression and emergency medical services (EMS) use by community-dwelling older adults with disabilities.

Methods: A prospective observational.study including 1,444 participants age 65+ in 19 counties in three US states that participated in the Medicare Primary and Consumer-Directed Care Demonstration. Eligibility criteria included needing or receiving help with either 2+ activities of daily living (ADLs) or 3+ instrumental ADLs, and having received recent significant healthcare services use. The presence of major depression was measured at baseline by the MINI Major Depressive Episode module. EMS utilization data for the following 2 years were obtained from a daily journal concurrently completed by each subject or a caregiver.

Results: More persons with major depression (43%) than without (35%) reported EMS use. When other factors were controlled in a logistic regression model, this effect was no longer statistically significant. However, of those with at least one episode of EMS transport, the depressed reported significantly (25%) more episodes (mean = 2.10) than the non-depressed (mean = 1.68). Major depression was significantly associated with more EMS episodes in both Poisson (Z = 1.99; p = 0.047) and ordinary least squares (t = 2.08; p = 0.038) regression models.

Conclusions: Depressed disabled older adults who utilize EMS have more EMS episodes than those without depression. This higher use may be driven in part by affective illness. Research is needed to determine whether more EMS episodes are necessary to address symptoms of major depression, especially suicidal ideation, or whether they are due to other illnesses that are exacerbated by symptoms of major depression.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/gps.2063DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2587519PMC
December 2008
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