Emily during fieldwork; Photo credit: Jake Coltman
My research focuses on pollinators, particularly bees. Pollinators are vital for our food production and for the maintenance of many natural plant populations. I am interested how pollinators and flowers have evolved together, to result in the diversity that we see today.
My research in the Brown Lab drew on this interest to investigate viral transmission in bees and how flowers may act as hotspots of viral transmission in the field.
Bombus hortorum visiting a field bean (Vicia faba) flower
Photo credit: Emily Bailes
Bombus terrestris worker in a bee behavioural experiment
Photo credit: Emily Bailes
During my PhD research with Beverley Glover at the University of Cambridge I investigated if it was possible to improve the flowers of the field bean (Vicia faba L.) to be more 'bee friendly'. We examined the variation in floral traits present in the field bean and used bee behavioural experiments to determine if this variation could be used to improve pollination rates. The field bean is highly reliant on bee pollination for maxiumum yield, however breeding programmes have not focused on floral traits as a means of improving yield and therefore there is great potential to improve yield by optimising these traits.
Alongside this work I investigated the molecular basis of conical cell development in flowers of the field bean.
Bailes EJ, Glover BJ. Intraspecific variation in the petal epidermal cell morphology of Vicia faba L.(Fabaceae). Flora 2018 vol 244-245 pp29-36 doi: 10.1016/j.flora.2018.06.005
Bailes EJ*, Deutsch KR*, Bagi J, Rondissone L, Brown M & Lewis OT. First detection of bee viruses in hoverfly (syrphid) pollinators. Biology Letters. 2018 doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2018.0001
My article for The Conversation related to this work can be found here
Bailes EJ, Pattrick JG, Glover BJ. An analysis of the energetic reward offered by field bean (Vicia faba) flowers: Nectar, pollen, and operative force. Ecology and Evolution 2018; doi:10.1002/ece3.3851
My blog post on this paper can be found here
An interview related to this topic can be found here
A related piece written by The New Food Economy can be found here
Sauquet H, von Balthazar M, Magallón S, Doyle JA, Endress PK, Bailes EJ, Barroso de Morais E, Bull-Hereñu K, Carrive L, Chartier M, Chomicki G, Coiro M, Cornette R, El Ottra JHL, Epicoco C, Foster CSP, Jabbour F, Haevermans A, Haevermans T, Hernández R, Little SA, Löfstrand S, Luna JA, Massoni J, Nadot S, Pamperl S, Prieu C, Reyes E, dos Santos P, Schoonderwoerd KM, Sontag S, Soulebeau A, Staedler Y, Tschan GF, Wing-Sze Leung A, Schönenberger J. 2017. The ancestral flower of angiosperms and its early diversification. Nature Communications 8, Article number: 16047 doi:10.1038/ncomms16047
Bailes EJ, Ollerton J, Pattrick JG, Glover BJ. 2015. How can an understanding of plant–pollinator interactions contribute to global food security? Current Opinion in Plant Biology. vol 26 pp 72-79 doi:10.1016/j.pbi.2015.06.002