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The Australian National University

Maleszka Lab - From molecules to behaviour

Research | Research opportunities | Lab members | Lab awards | Publications | Grants

Professor Ryszard Maleszka

Building 46,
Research School of Biology,
The Australian National University,
Acton, ACT 0200
T: 61250451


Ryszard Maleszka received his MSc and a PhD from the Department of Genetics, University of Warsaw and has done postdoctoral work at the National Research Council of Canada before moving to Australia in 1987. Since 1998 he has been spearheading a research theme called ‘From Molecules to Memory’ that uses invertebrate model systems to study the genotype to phenotype link, and to understand how epigenetic modifications contribute to environmentally-driven phenotypic plasticity and the maintenance of memory. He is a member of several genomic consortia and advisor to genomic databases. He has published over 100 papers including research and popular articles, reviews and book chapters.

Research interests

  • Integration of genomic and environmental stimuli via epigenomic modifications
  • Epigenetic mechanisms controlling behavioural development and memory storage in the brain
  • How contrasting phenotypic and behavioural outputs are produced from the same genome

Current projects

Epigenetic integration of genomic and environmental information in honey bees

To study the link between DNA methylation and environmental influences.        Show more detail...

How DNA-methylation contributes to long-term memory

To examine changes in the epigenome associated with the consolidation of long-term memory        Show more detail...

Student research opportunities

From Molecules to Memory

To understand how long-term memories are stored in the brain. Model organism: social bees.        Show more detail...

Epigenomics of brain wiring and behaviour in honey bees

To study epigenetic profiles of neuronal cell types in the honey bee brain        Show more detail...

Genes, diet and environment

To understand how the outside world is linked to DNA        Show more detail...

Bioinformatic methods for epigenomic data analysis

The project involves the development of new methods to understand epigenetic regulatory mechanisms.        Show more detail...

Lab members

  • Regan Ashby (Visiting Fellow)
  • Paul Helliwell (Technical Officer)
  • Robert Kucharski (Research Fellow)
  • Richard Maleszka (Lab Leader)
  • Joanna Maleszka (Senior Technical Officer)
  • Laura Wedd (PhD student)

» Go to lab directory

Lab awards and achievements

  • Visual materials showing our work and an interview with Ryszard Maleszka were used by the German TV station Bayerischer Rundfunk BR Alpha in a TV documentary about epigenomics
  • Insect specimens and other lab materials are on display in the Science Museum in London as part of the exhibition “Who am I’ that illustrates the latest discoveries in epigenetics and genomics
  • Our report on the role of DNA methylation in honey bee caste differentiation (Science, 2008) has been recognised as a major breakthrough in epigenetics. It was listed by Nature as one of the research highlights of the year and reviewed by Faculty 1000 in the ‘must read’ category.
  • Paul Helliwell received the highest award for his bee-related products during Royal Canberra Show (2010)
  • A program based on the 2008 Science paper was broadcasted by the Japanese NHK Television Network as part of a documentary series ‘Science Zero"

Media coverage

Link to media page


Selected publications

  • Foret S, Kucharski R, Pellegrini M, Feng S, Jacobsen SE, Robinson GE, Maleszka R (2012) DNA methylation dynamics, metabolic fluxes, gene splicing, and alternative phenotypes in honey bees. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 109:4968-4973
  • Lyko F, Maleszka R. (2011) Insects as innovative models for functional studies of DNA methylation. Trends in Genetics. 27:127-131 [Cover article]
  • Lyko, F, Foret, S, Kucharski, R, Wolf, S, Falckenhayn, C, Maleszka, R (2010) The Honey Bee Epigenomes: Differential Methylation of Brain DNA in Queens and Workers. PloS Biol. 8, e1000506.
  • Maleszka as a member of the Nasonia Genome Working Group (2010) Functional and evolutionary insights from the genomes of three parasitoid Nasonia species. Science. 327:343-348
  • Barron, AB, Maleszka, R, Helliwell, PG & Robinson, GE (2009) Effects of Cocaine on Honey Bee Dance Behaviour. J. Exp. Biol. 211, 163-168.
  • Maleszka, R (2008) Epigenetic integration of environmental and genomic signals in honey bees: the critical interplay of nutritional, brain and reproductive networks. Epigenetics. 3, 188-192
  • Kucharski, R, Maleszka, J., Foret, S. Maleszka, R (2008) Nutritional control of reproductive status in honey bees via DNA methylation. Science. 319:1827-1830.
  • Maleszka, R. as a member of the Tribolium Genome Sequencing Consortium (2008) The genome of the model beetle and pest Tribolium castaneum. Nature, 452, 949-955.
  • Barron, A.B., Maleszka, R., Vander Meer, R. and G.E. Robinson. (2007) Octopamine modulates honey bee dance behavior. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 104, 1703-1707.
  • Wang, Y, Jorda, M. Jones, PL, Maleszka, R, et al (2006) Functional CpG Methylation System in a Social Insect. Science. 314, 645-647.
  • Drapeau, M.D., Albert, S., Kucharski, R, Prusko, C., Maleszka, R. (2006) Evolution of the Yellow / Major Royal Jelly Protein family and the emergence of social behavior in honeybees. Genome Res. 16, 1385-1394. [Cover article]
  • Maleszka as a member of the Honey Bee Genome Consortium (2006) Insights into social insects from the genome of the honey bee Apis mellifera. Nature, 443, 931-949. [Cover article]
  • Foret, S. and Maleszka, R. (2006) Function and evolution of a gene family encoding odorant binding-like proteins in a social insect, the honey bee (Apis mellifera). Genome Res. 16, 1404- 1413.

All publications

Click here to see a full list of publications on the ISI website...

Recent grants

  • NHMRC Project Grant, 2013-2015, $337,144.86 (Sole CI) - Unlocking the secrets of Royal Jelly: from recent breakthroughs to novel drugs targeting Anaplastic Lymphoma Kinase (APP1050593)
  • ARC Discovery grant 2012-2014, $270,000 (R. Maleszka, A. Barron) Beyond the genome: unravelling the intricacies of epigenetic regulation using the honey bee model (DP12010180)
  • NHMRC Equipment grant 2011, $43,917 (R. Maleszka, R. Arkell) - Gene Expression and Variant Analysis System
  • ARC Discovery grant, 2010- 2013, $570,000 (Sole CI) - Epigenetic integration of genomic and environmental information in honey bees (DP1092706)
  • NHMRC Research grant, 2010-2012, $465,500, (R. Maleszka, A. Barron, J. Cornish, )- Molecular memory: how DNA methylation contributes to spatial memory (585442)
  • ARC Discovery grant, 2009-2011, $250,000 (A. Barron, J. Cornish, R. Maleszka ) Vulnerability to cocaine use: discovering common mechanisms conserved across animal phyla (DP0986021)
  • ARC Discovery Grant, 2007-2009, $246,000 (sole CI) Epigenesis and sociality (DP0770821)
  • ARC Special Research Centre for the Molecular Genetics of Development (CMGD) 2002-2009, One of several CIs

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Updated:  21 December 2010/Responsible Officer:  Director RSB /Page Contact:  RSB Webmaster