Jason Pitts, PhD

Jason Pitts, PhD
Assistant Professor
High Res Photo

Assistant Professor of Biology


BS, Ball State University, Muncie, IN
MA, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN
PhD, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN

Area of Research

Arthropod Disease Vectors

Courses Taught

In the News

Baylor Connections: Dr. Tamar Carter and Dr. Jason Pitts

Research Interests

Arthropod-borne diseases continue to plague developing regions and are being recognized as rising threats to public health in developed nations. Anthropogenic factors such as trade, international travel, global climate change, and habitat modification are major contributors to the spread of vectors and disease-causing agents. Moreover, pesticide/drug resistance and unsustainable control programs in many locations have eroded current methods of vector control and disease treatment. New insights into the biology of disease-transmitting insect and tick species are acutely needed in order to combat their devastating effects on human health and economic prosperity.

Our lab investigates the sensory neuronal basis for behaviors in disease-transmitting arthropods, especially mosquito vectors of arboviruses like Dengue and Zika. Of particular interest are the pathways that contribute to chemical- and temperature-oriented behaviors such as host seeking, nectar feeding and oviposition site selection. One of our major goals is to understand complex biological systems by employing a range of techniques including gene expression, neurophysiology, and animal responses to sensory stimuli. A long-term objective of our efforts will be to contribute to reductions in human and animal disease transmission at local, national, and regional levels by developing novel methods of arthropod surveillance and control that can be integrated into existing pest management programs.

Selected Publications:

Sames W, Mann J, Kelly R, Evans C, Varnado W, Bosworth A, Noden B, Ramberg F, Riles M, Killingsworth D, Doyle M, Pitts RJ (2021) “Distribution of Culex coronator in the USA ” J Am Mosq Control Assoc1. 37 (1): 1-9. doi: https://doi.org/10.2987/21-6995.18

Ye Z, Liu F, Ferguson S, Baker A, Pitts RJ, Zwiebel L (2021) “Ammonium transporter AcAmt mutagenesis uncovers reproductive and physiological defects without impacting olfactory responses to ammonia in the malaria vector mosquito Anopheles coluzzii.” Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. 134: 103578

Huff RM, Pitts RJ (2020) “Carboxylic acid responses by a conserved odorant receptor in culicine vector mosquitoes”. Insect Mol Biol. 29(6): 523-530.

Mann JG, Washington M, Guynup T, Tarrand C, Dewey EM, Fredregill C, Duguma D, Pitts RJ (2020) “Feeding Habits of Vector Mosquitoes in Harris County, TX, 2018.” J Med Entomol. 57(6): 1920-1929.

Ye Z, Liu F, Sun H, Barker, M, Pitts RJ, Zwiebel LJ (2020) “Heterogeneous Expression of the Ammonium Transporter AgAmt in Chemosensory Appendages of the Malaria Vector, Anopheles gambiae.” Insect Biochem Mol Biol. 120: 103360

Young KI, Medwid JT, Azar SR, Huff RM, Drumm H, Coffey LL, M, Pitts RJ, Buenemann M, Vasilakis N, Perera D, Hanley KA (2020) “Identification of host bloodmeals from mosquitoes collected in diverse habitats in Malaysian Borneo using COI barcoding.” Trop Med Infect Dis. 5(2): 51

Huff RM, Pitts RJ*, (2019) “An odorant receptor from Anopheles gambiae that demonstrates enantioselectivity to the plant volatile, linalool.” PLoS One 14(11):e0225637.

Saveer AM, Pitts RJ*, Ferguson ST, Zwielbel LJ (2018) “Characterization of Chemosensory Responses on the Labellum of the Malaria Vector Mosquito, Anopheles coluzzii.” Sci Rep 8: 5656.

Pitts RJ*, Derryberry S*, Zhang Z, Zwiebel LJ (2017) “Variant Ionotropic Receptors in the Malaria Vector Mosquito Anopheles gambiae Tuned to Amines and Carboxylic Acids.” Sci Rep 7: 40297

Dekel A, Pitts RJ, Yakir E, Bohbot JD (2016) “Evolutionary conserved odorant receptor function questions ecological context of octenol role in mosquitoes.” Sci Rep 6: 37330.

Rinker DC, Pitts RJ, Zwiebel LJ (2016) “Disease vectors in the era of next generation sequencing.” Genome Biology 17:95.

Bohbot JB, Pitts RJ (2015) “The narrowing olfactory landscape of insect odorant receptors.” Front Ecol Evol 3:39.

Pitts RJ*, Derryberry SL Jr*, Pulous FE, Zwiebel LJ (2014) “Antennal-Expressed Ammonium Transporters in the Malaria Vector Mosquito Anopheles gambiae.” PLoS One 9(10):e111858.

Pitts RJ (2014) “A blood-free protein meal supporting oogenesis in the Asian tiger mosquito, Aedes albopictus (Skuse).” J Insect Phys 64:1-6.

Pitts RJ*, Liu C*, Zhou X*, Malpartida JC, Zwiebel LJ (2014) “Odorant Receptor-Mediated Sperm Activation in Disease Vector Mosquitoes.Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 111(7):2566-71.

Department of Biology

B.207 Baylor Science Building
One Bear Place #97388
Waco, TX 76798-7388

(254) 710-2911