Dr Fabio Manfredini

Dr Fabio Manfredini
BSc, MSc, PhD


Dr Fabio Manfredini
Dr Fabio Manfredini

Contact Details



2005-2009        PhD: Evolutionary Biology, University of Siena. Dissertation title: “Dealing with a changeable environment: host-parasite relationships in insects”. Advisor: Romano Dallai. Co-advisor: Laura Beani.

2003-2005        MSc: Biodiversity, Ecology and Evolution, University of Siena. 110 (out of 110) cum laude. Thesis title: “The peculiar immunity elusion of Xenos vesparum (Insecta: Strepsiptera) as endoparasite inside Polistes dominulus (Insecta: Hymenoptera)”. Advisor: Romano Dallai.

1999-2003        BSc: Life Sciences, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia.110 (out of 110) cum laude. Thesis title: “Public perception of Genetically Modified Organisms”. Advisor: Mauro Mandrioli.



From Jan 2020  Lecturer in Functional Genomics, School of Biological Sciences, University of Aberdeen

2016-2019        Postdoctoral Research Associate Royal Holloway University of London. European Research Council project BeeDanceGap: “Honeybee communication: animal social learning at the height of social complexity”. Project Coordinator: Elli Leadbeater.

2014-2016        Marie Curie Fellow (International Incoming Fellowship) Royal Holloway University of London. Project EVOCOOP: “Multi-level analysis of the evolution of cooperative behaviour in social insects”. Project Coordinator: Mark J. F. Brown. 

2013-2014        Leverhulme Postdoctoral Fellow Royal Holloway University of London. Project: “Are bumblebees the Extended Phenotype of nematodes? A transcriptomics approach”. Project Coordinators: Mark J. F. Brown and Seirian Sumner.

2010-2013        Postdoctoral Researcher Penn State University. Project: “Functional Genomics of the Red Imported Fire Ant, Solenopsis invicta.” Project Coordinators: Christina M. Grozinger and DeWayne D. Shoemaker.


Research Overview

I am an evolutionary ecologist interested in understanding how complex behaviours and phenotypic plasticity are regulated at the molecular level. My research focuses on social insects (such as bees, ants and wasps) as these organisms provide a wide range of opportunities to explore how complex animal societies interact with the environment: from the ecosystem services that pollinators like bees provide, to biological invasions as observed for many ant and wasps species. I adopt a  multidisciplinary approach in my research, including functional genomics, behavioural assays and molecular tools. I have used a diverse set of study models to address my questions, including fire ants (Solenopsis invicta), paper wasps (Polistes dominula), bumblebees (Bombus terrestris) and honeybees (Apis mellifera).



There are currently no openings to join the Lab. However, I am always available to discuss options for propsective PhD students or postdocs to secure their own funding to join the Lab and support their research. If you are interested please contact me by email: your CV and a brief statement of interests are alwasy a great start.

Current Research

I have recently established my research group at the Univeristy of Aberdeen (January 2020). The following projects are currently ongoing in my group. 

Elucidating the role of deformed wing virus (DWV) on honey bee cognitive performance through the analysis of brain gene expression. This is a projected funded by The CB Dennis British Beekeepers’ Research Trust and in collaboration with Dr Alan Bowman (Univeristy of Aberdeen) and his group. In this project we are investigating whether the presence of the widespread DWV virus (transmitted by the parasitic mite Varroa destructor) in the honeybee brain impairs bee's cognitve abilities by affecting the expression of key genes in neural tissues. The reasearch assistant for this project, Lauren Dingle, has performed behavioural tests (Proboscis Elongation Reflex assays or PER) across a range of honeybee colonies presenting different levels of DWV infection. She is now quantifying viral loads in the brain of these bees to select the samples that will undergo RNA sequencing. 

The evolution of the honeybee waggle dance: a population genomics approach. This is a Distance Learning PhD project led by Simon Loughran and under the co-supervision of Dr Kara Layton (University of Aberdeen). This project aims to characterize the evolution of the honeybee waggle dance at the genetic level. Simon will investigate whether key genes associated with the performance of this behaviour are under positive selection in populations of honeybees that are exposed to a range of different environments, from native tropical forests to rural and urbanized environments in Europe and North America. Simon will use open access genomic data and will interrogate them with the most advanced bioinformatic tools currently available.


Past Research

Implementing a Machine Learning Approach for the understanding of social learning in honeybee foragers. This project was led by Marcell Veiner, a student in Computing Science and Mathematics at the Univeristy of Aberdeen, and in collaboration with Dr Juliano Morimoto (University of Aberdeen). In this project Marcell used a transcriptomic dataset originated from a previous large RNAseq experiment to investigate whether brain gene expression data can be used to predict behavioural performance of honeybee dancers and followers involved in a waggle dance event. Marcell is currently preparing a manuscript for submission to a scientific journal for publication. The project was a NERC Funded Research Experience Placement funded by the UKRI. You can read Marcell's blog post about his experience with the project here




Simon Loughran

PhD student, started in January 2021

Simon's background is computer science and software development, and since switching to the study of biology a few years ago he's developed a keen interest in animal behaviour, genetics and insects (especially the Diptera and Hymenoptera). For his PhD he's investigating the evolution of the honey bee waggle dance from a genomics perspective. He's also dad to a toddler, a songwriter, a running coach, and the webmaster for runbundle.com.


Emily Birch

PhD student, EASTBIO Doctoral Training partnership, starting in October 2021

Project: "The interplay between genes and viruses in the honey bee brain and its effects on foraging behaviour"


Gabrielle Young

MSc Student, starting in May 2021

Project: "Habitat use by bumblebees in coastal and wetland environments" 


Nathanael Litlekalsoy

MSc Student, starting in May 2021

Project: "Effect of social environment on alternative splicing in the brain of ant queens"


Estefania Hugo Arnabal

Honours Student, startin in September 2021

Project: "Honeybee brain gene expression in relation to viral loads and cognitive performance"


Jessie Jungels

Honours Student 2020-21

Project: "The role of immunity in honeybee foraging behaviour"


Caitlin McLeod

Honours Student 2020-21

Project: "Investigating the relationships between immune-related gene expression in the brain and founding modalities with different levels of social stress in Solenopsis invicta queens"

Research Funding and Grants

The project on DWV, bee cognition and brain gene expression is supported by The CB Dennis British Beekeepers’ Research Trust (20 months, £26,932).

The project on machine learning and waggle dance has been funded by The Natural Environmnet Research Council (NERC-UKRI) in the form of a research experinec summer placement to Marcell Veiner (10 weeks, £2,500). 



Teaching Responsibilities

I am the coordinator of the new course in Ecological Genomics (BI3312) that will launch in November 2021. Other contributors to the course are Dr Ashish Malik, Dr Kara Layton, Dr Victoria Sleight and Dr Marius Wenzel.

I am also contributing to the following courses:


BI1009: Frontiers in Biological Sciences (Evolution & Behaviour)


BI2023: Introduction to Genetics (Population Genetics)


BI3505: Behavioural Biology 



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