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Yosef Hamba Tola

NRC Postdoctoral Research Scholar – Tarpy Lab



Ph.D. in Genetics, University of Pretoria, South Africa (2021)
M.Sc. in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, Pan African University Institute for Basic Sciences Technology and Innovation and Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Nairobi, Kenya (joint degree) (2014)
B.Sc. in Biology, Dire Dawa University, Ethiopia (2011)

Research Interests

His research work focuses on “Examining the role of honey bee gut microbiota in physiology, disease resistance, and environmental stress tolerance to improve pollinator health.” In doing so, he will investigate the degree to which the beneficial bacteria in the honey bee system is linked to colony health. His main goal is to study the physiological and host fitness roles of honey bee gut microbiota from samples taken in Africa (where there is less colony mortality) and compare them to those in the USA (where there is unsustainable colony mortality). This will be done in order to identify bacteria with a “probiotic” beneficial effect on bee immunity against major honey bee pathogens and environmental stressors thus identifying a promising tool for bee health improvement. As such, his study will help to understand the roles of gut microbiota in African honey bee resistance to pathogens and disease and help to improve honey bee health in the US.

Prior to joining Applied Ecology, he served as a Research Assistant in Animal Health Theme (June 2021 – February 2022) and PhD research fellow (June 2017 – September 2021) at the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe) in Kenya and the University of Pretoria, South Africa. His previous work contributed to uncovering hidden diversity and host-specific microbiomes of bees from sub-Saharan-African regions and revealing an important and unexplored universe of bacterial symbionts and pathogens associated with black soldier fly and tick species. He was also a research fellow at the Africa-ai-Japan Project (December 2014 – June 2017) and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) (January 2013 – November 2014) in Nairobi, Kenya. He worked on indigenous rhizobia for inoculum production in Ethiopia and Kenya. In parallel, during his research fellowship which was sponsored by Asia Africa Science Platform Program (AASPP) in Okayama University, Institute of Plant Science and Resources (IPSR) in Japan (2015), he developed the first bacterial chemotaxis fishing method used to screen and enriched environmental chemotactic bacteria using a glass capillary. In addition, he was a Biology department lecturer at Adigrat University in Ethiopia (September 2011 – September 2012).

Selected Publications

Tola, Y. H., Waweru, J. W., Ndungu, N. N., Nkoba, K., Slippers, B., & Paredes, J. C. (2021). Loss and gain of gut microbiota phylotype symbionts in Afrotropical stingless bee species (Apidae: Meliponinae). Microorganisms, 9(12), 2420:

Tola, Y. H., Waweru, J. W., Hurst, G. D., Slippers, B., & Paredes, J. C. (2020). Characterization of the Kenyan Honey bee (Apis mellifera) Gut Microbiota: A First Look at Tropical and Sub-Saharan African Bee Associated Microbiomes. Microorganisms, 8(11), 1721:

Tanga, C. M., Waweru, J. W., Tola, Y. H., Onyoni, A. A., Khamis, F. M., Ekesi, S., & Paredes, J. C. (2021) Organic waste substrates induce important shifts in gut microbiota of black soldier fly (Hermetia illucens L.): Co-existence of conserved, variable and potential pathogenic microbes. Front. Microbiol. 12:635881: https://doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2021.635881.

Tola, Y. H., Fujitani, Y., & Tani, A. (2019). Bacteria with natural chemotaxis towards methanol revealed by chemotaxis fishing technique. Bioscience, biotechnology, and biochemistry, 83(11), 2163-2171:

Korir, H., Mungai, N. W., Thuita, M., Tola, Y.H, & Masso, C. (2017). Co-inoculation effect of rhizobia and plant growth promoting rhizobacteria on common bean growth in a low phosphorus soil. Front. Plant Sci. 8:141: https://doi: 10.3389/fpls.2017.00141.


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