Olav Rueppell

Olav Rueppell

Olav Rueppell

Adjunct Professor, Florence Schaeffer Distinguished Professor of Science

(336) 256-2591
206 Eberhart Building


Causes and consequences of social evolution in insects and honey bee health.


Ph.D., University of Wuerzburg


My scientific interest focuses on causes and consequences of social evolution, and I use honey bees as models to evaluate these scientific problems at the genetic, cellular, individual and societal level of biological organization. Accordingly, my research methods comprise bioinformatics, genetic analyses, studies of cells, behavioral and physiological observations and experiments, and demographic and ecological approaches. Social insects fascinate me because their societies add an interesting level of complexity, many social insects groups have experienced a broad ecological success and some species are very important to humans. Some specific current research projects include studies of honey bee reproductive traits, genetic characterizations of complex traits that are important in social organization, the investigation of honey bee intestinal stem cells, biodemographic studies of aging, and comparative genomics projects. Furthermore, I am interested in honey bee health and we seek to understand how viruses, parasitic mites, and stress contribute to the ongoing honey bee health crisis with the goal of identifying sustainable solutions.

Recent Publications:

Waiker P., Baral S., Kennedy A., Bhatia S., Rueppell A., Le K., Amiri E., Tsuruda J., Rueppell O. (2019) Foraging and homing behavior of honey bees (Apis mellifera) during a total solar eclipse. The Science of Nature, 106:4. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00114-018-1597-2

Amiri E., Seddon G., Zuluaga-Smith W., Strand M.K., Tarpy D.R., Rueppell O. (2019) Israeli Acute Bee Paralysis Virus: queen-worker interaction and potential virus transmission pathways. Insects, 10(1):9 https://doi.org/10.3390/insects10010009

Wagoner K.M., Spivak M., Rueppell O. (2018) Brood affects hygienic behavior in the honeybee (Hymenoptera: Apidae) Journal of Economic Entomology, 111(6): 2520-2530. https://doi.org/10.1093/jee/toy266

Langberg K., Phillips M., Rueppell O. (2018) Testing the effect of paraquat exposure on genomic recombination rates in queens of the Western Honey Bee, Apis mellifera. Genetica, 146(2), 171-178. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10709-018-0009-z PMID: 29397499.

Amiri E., Kryger P., Meixner M.D., Strand M.K., Tarpy D.R., & Rueppell O. (2018) Quantitative patterns of vertical transmission of deformed wing virus in honey bees. PLoS ONE, 13(3): e0195283. doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0195283

Lawhorn C.M., Shomaker R., Rowell J.T., & Rueppell O. (2018) Simple comparisons of differentially expressed gene lists may overestimate gene overlap. Journal of Computational Biology, 25(6) 606-612, doi/10.1089/cmb.2017.0262 PMID 29658777.

Olav Rueppell , Babak Yousefi, Juan Collazo & Daniel Smith (2017) Early life stress affects mortality rate more than social behavior, gene expression or oxidative damage in honey bee workers. Experimental Gerontology, 90: 19-25. doi:10.1016/j.exger.2017.01.015

Simone-Finstrom M., Li-Byarlay H., Huang M.H., Strand M.K., Rueppell O., & Tarpy D.R. (2016) Migratory management and environmental conditions affect lifespan and oxidative stress in honey bees. Scientific Reports, 6: 32023. doi:10.1038/srep32023.

Li-Byarlay H., Huang M.H., Simone-Finstrom M., Strand M.K., Tarpy D.R., & Rueppell O. (2016) Honey bee (Apis mellifera) drones survive oxidative stress due to increased tolerance instead of avoidance or repair of oxidative damage. Experimental Gerontology, 83(10): 15-21. doi:10.1016/j.exger.2016.07.003.

Rueppell O., Aumer D. & Moritz R.F.A. (2016) Ties between aging plasticity and reproductive physiology in honey bees (Apis mellifera) reveal a positive relation between fecundity and longevity as consequence of advanced social evolution. Current Opinion in Insect Science, 16: 64-68. doi:10.1016/j.cois.2016.05.009

Rueppell O., Koenigseder F., Heinze J. & Schrempf A. (2015) Intrinsic survival advantage of social insect queens depends on reproductive activation. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 28(12): 2349-2354. doi:10.1111/jeb.12749..

von Wyschetski K., Rueppell O., Oettler J. & Heinze J. (2015) Transcriptomic signatures mirror the lack of the fecundity / longevity trade-off in ant queens. Molecular Biology and Evolution, 32(12): 3173-3185. doi:10.1093/molbev/msv186.

Sadd B.M., Barribeau S.M., et al., including Rueppell, O. (2015) The genomes of two key bumblebee species with primitive eusocial organization. Genome Biology, 16:76. doi:10.1186/s13059-015-0623-3.

Ross, R.C., DeFelice D.S., Hunt, J.G., Ihle, K.E., Amdam, G.V., Rueppel, O. (2015) Genomic correlates of recombination rate and its variability across eight recombination maps in the western honey bee (Apis mellifera L.). BMC Genomics 16:107. doi: 10.1186/s12864-015-1281-2

Ihle K.E., Rueppell O., Huang Z.Y., Wang Y., Fondrk M.K., Page R.E., Amdam G.V. (2015) Genetic architecture of a hormonal response to gene knockdown in honey bees. Journal of Heredity, 106: 155-165. doi:10.1093/jhered/esu086

Ross C., Rychtar J., Rueppell O. (2015) A structured population model suggests that long life and post-reproductive lifespan promote the evolution of cooperation. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 369:85-94. doi:10.1016/j.jtbi.2015.01.020

Complete list of publications in google scholar


Principles of Biology I Lecture (BIO 111)
Principles of Biology II Lab (BIO 112L)
Biology of the Invertebrates (BIO 341)
Biology of the Invertebrates Lab (BIO 341L)
Entomology (BIO 541)
Biology of Aging (BIO 536)
Molecular Biological Approaches to Research (BIO 596)