NC State University
Huang, Ming Hua

Postdoctoral Research Scholar

Faculty Affiliate: 
Dr. David Tarpy

Thomas Hall 1556 (Gardner Addition)





Social Insect Caste Determination; Insect Hormones & Development; Caste Functions (Honey Bees & Ants)

Tarpy Lab website



B.S., Entomology (Cum Laude), Cornell University

PhD, Entomology (Ecology & Evolutionary Biology minor), University of Arizona [advised by Diana Wheeler, Entomology]



I am broadly interested in the behavioral and developmental mechanisms underlying phenotypic plasticity in social insect castes and how this variation affects colony health and fitness. My studies focus on honey bees and ants. More specifically, I am interested in the effects of the interaction between an individual’s hormones and nutrition on its genes and the functional roles of different phenotypes in the colony. The study questions that I strive to pursue contribute to both the basic and applied sciences.

My dissertation work at the University of Arizona was on the effects of hormones and patriline genetics on the larval development of worker castes (minors, soldiers, and supersoldiers) in Pheidole big-headed ants. I also studied the different behavioral roles of the three worker castes. In addition to my ant research, I have also collaborated with researchers at the USDA-ARS Carl Hayden Bee Research Center (Tucson, AZ) on projects dealing with honey bee colony health and nutrition, worker genetic diversity, and queen chemical volatiles. 

As a postdoctoral researcher in the Tarpy lab at NCSU, I am working in collaboration with Dr. David Tarpy (NCSU), Olav Rueppell (UNCG), Michael Simone-Finstrom (NCSU), and Micheline Strand (ARL-ARO) on the genetic basis for inter- and intra-colonial variations in oxidative stress (DNA damage) levels in honey bee workers as a result of everyday bee management practices. I am also interested in whether resistance to oxidative stress is inherited from father drones to worker offspring and if this trait can be actively selected for.



Huang, M.H., E.J. Fjerdingstad & D.E. Wheeler (2013) Mating system evolution in Pheidole ants. Molecular Ecology 22: 1998-2010.

DeGrandi-Hoffman, G., B. Eckholm & M.H. Huang (2013) A comparison of bee bread made by Africanized and European honey bees (Apis mellifera) and its effects on hemolymph protein titers. Apidologie 44: 52-63.             

Huang, M.H. & M.C. Caillaud (2012) Inbreeding avoidance by recognition of close kin in the pea aphid, Acyrthosiphon pisum. 13pp. Journal of Insect Science 12:39 available online: 

Rajakumar, R., D. San Mauro, M. Dijkstra, M.H. Huang, D.E. Wheeler, F. Hiou-Tim, A. Khila, M. Cournoyea & E. Abouheif (2012) Ancestral developmental plasticity facilitates the parallel development and evolution of novel ant castes. Science 335: 79-82.                         

Huang, M.H. & D.E. Wheeler (2011) Colony demographics of rare soldier-polymorphic worker caste systems in Pheidole ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Insectes Sociaux 58: 539-549.             

DeGrandi-Hoffman, G., J. Chen, E. Huang & M.H. Huang (2010) The effect of diet on protein content, hypopharyngeal gland development and virus load in worker honey bees (Apis mellifera L.). Journal of Insect Physiology 56: 1184-1191.              

Huang, M.H. (2010) Multi-phase defense by the big-headed ant Pheidole obtusospinosa against raiding army ants. 10pp. Journal of Insect Science 10:1 available online: 

Huang, M.H., G. DeGrandi-Hoffman & B. LeBlanc (2009) Comparisons of the queen volatile compounds of instrumentally inseminated versus naturally mated honey bee (Apis mellifera) queens. Apidologie 40: 464-471. 

Huang, M.H. & A. Dornhaus (2008) A meta-analysis of ant social parasitism: host characteristics of different parasitism types and a test of Emery’s rule. Ecological Entomology 33(5): 589-596.  

Huang, M.H. & T.D. Seeley (2003) Multiple unloadings by nectar foragers in honey bees: a matter of information improvement or crop fullness? Insectes Sociaux 50: 1-10.



Huang, M.H. (2009) University of Arizona GIDP-EIS Department Logo. 

Dahl, J. & B.L. Peckarsky (2002) Induced morphological defenses in the wild: predator effects on a mayfly, Drunella coloradensis. Ecology 83:1620-1634 (Figure 1 by M.H. Huang).


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