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Jason L. Rasgon

Jason  L. Rasgon

Associate Professor of Entomology and Disease Epidemiology

Phone: 814-863-3668

Office: W-127 Millennium Science Complex

Research interests

The Rasgon Laboratory recently moved to Penn State University from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Our lab integrates population biology, ecology, molecular tools and theory to address fundamental and applied questions related to vector arthropods and the pathogens they transmit, with emphasis on release of genetically-modified mosquitoes for disease control, pathogen transmission dynamics and bioterrorism issues.

My broad research interests are in the relationship between the genetics of vector populations and the epidemiology of vector-borne pathogens. I address this broad question using both top-down and bottom-up approaches. Specifically, I am interested in 1) how natural genetic variation in wild vector populations conditions phenotypic variation in pathogen transmission and 2) how natural genetic variation in wild vector populations can be artificially altered to have a directed effect on pathogen transmission dynamics.

A major research focus of my laboratory is the development, evaluation and deployment of methods to spread introduced transgenes into natural vector populations. Ongoing projects include creation of methods to infect the mosquito Anopheles gambiae with the bacterial endosymbiont Wolbachia, development of viral-based systems for gene expression and drive in Anopheles mosquitoes and studies of the relationship between ecological factors and the success of transgenic mosquito releases. Other major questions under investigation include examining relationships between vector population genetic structure and the epidemiology of vector-borne pathogens, using Culex tarsalis and West Nile virus as a model system.

I am looking for motivated people who are interested in applying a wide array of integrated techniques to investigate these important and exciting questions.


Lab Members and Affiliates:

Research Associates

Dr. Grant Hughes (Wolbachia and Anopheles)

Post-doctoral Researchers

Dr. Long Cui (Wolbachia and Anopheles)

Dr. Yasutsugu Suzuki (Anopheles densovirus)

Dr. Tapan Barik (arriving October 2013)

PhD Students

Brittany Dodson

Rebecca Johnson

Megan Wilkerson

Duverney Chaverra Rodriguez


Rhiannon Schneider


Alyssa Patt

David Peterson

Lab alumni

Dr. Guodong Niu

Dr. Hitoshi Tsujimoto



69. Hughes GL, Samuels SK, Shaikh K, Rasgon JL and Vardo-Zalik AM. 2013. Discrimination of the Plasmodium mexicanum vectors Lutzomyia stewarti and Lutzomyia vexator by a PCR-RFLP assay and Wolbachia infections. In review.

68. Murdock CC, Hughes GL, Rasgon JL and Thomas MB. 2013. Environmental temperature alters malaria transmission blocking by Wolbachia. In review.

67. Chen S, Rasgon JL. 2013. Culex tarsalis vitellogenin gene promoters investigated in silico and in vivo using transgenic Drosophila melanogaster. In review.

66. Ren X, Hughes GL, Niu G, Suzuki Y and Rasgon JL. 2013. Anopheles gambiae densovirus (AgDNV) is avirulent in its mosquito host. In review.

65. Provost-Javier KN and Rasgon JL. 2013. 20-hydroxyecdysone mediates non-canonical regulation of mosquito vitellogenins through alternative splicing. In revision.

64. Bourtzis K, Dobson S, Xi Z, Rasgon JL, Calviti M, Moreira LA, Bossin H, Moretti R, Baton LA, Hughes GL, Mavingui P and Gilles J. 2013. Harnessing Mosquito-Wolbachia Symbiosis for vector and disease control. Acta Tropica. In press.

63. Hughes GL and Rasgon JL. 2013. Transinfection: a method to investigate Wolbachia-host interactions and control arthropod-borne disease. Insect Molecular Biology. In press.

62. Liu K, Dong Y, Huang Y, Rasgon JL and Agre P. 2013. Impact of trehalose transporter knockdown on Anopheles gambiae stress adaptation and susceptibility to Plasmodium falciparum infection. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA. 110: 17504-17509.

61. Smith RC, Kizito CM, Rasgon JL and Jacobs-Lorena M. 2013. Malaria-resistant mosquitoes have a fitness advantage when fed Plasmodium falciparum-infected blood. PLoS ONE.  8: e76097.

60. Tsujimoto H, Liu K, Linser PJ, Agre P and Rasgon JL. 2013. Organ-specific splice variants of aquaporin AgAQP1 in the malaria vector Anopheles gambiae. PLoS ONE. 8: e75888.

59. Oluwagbemi OO, Fornadel CM, Adebiyi EF, Norris DE and Rasgon JL. 2013. ANOSPEX: A stochastic spatially explicit model for studying Anopheles metapopulation dynamics. PLoS ONE. 8: e68040.


58. Rasgon JL. 2012. Wolbachia and the Culex pipiens species complex. Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association. 28(4s): 122.

57. Dodson BL, Kramer LD and Rasgon JL. 2012. Effects of larval rearing temperature on immature development and West Nile virus vector competence of Culex tarsalis. Parasites and Vectors. 5: 199.

56. Leek JT, Taub MA and Rasgon JL. 2012. A statistical approach to selecting and confirming validation targets in -omics experiments. BMC Bioinformatics. 13: 150.

55. Hughes GL, Pike AD, Xue P and Rasgon JL. 2012. Invasion of Wolbachia into Anopheles and other insect germlines in an ex vivo organ culture system. PLoS ONE. 7: e36277.

54. Rasgon JL. 2012. Wolbachia induces male-specific mortality in the mosquito Culex pipiens (LIN strain). PLoS ONE. 7: e30381.

53. Hughes GL, Vega-Rodriguez J, Xue P and Rasgon JL. 2012. Wolbachia strain wAlbB enhances infection by the rodent malaria parasite Plasmodium berghei in Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 78: 1491-1495.

52. Zhang X, Ren X, Norris DE and Rasgon JL.  2012. Distribution and infection frequency of Candidatus Rickettsia amblyommii in Maryland populations of the lone star tick (Amblyomma americanum), and culture in an Anopheles gambiae mosquito cell line. Ticks and Tick-Borne Diseases. 3: 38-42.

51. Hughes G and Rasgon JL. 2012. Wolbachia infections in arthropod hosts.  Chapter 9, Insect Pathology and Microbial Pest Control, Eds. H Kaya and F Vega.


50. Rasgon JL. 2011. Mosquitoes attacked from within. Nature. 476: 407-408.

49. Foy BD, Kobylinski KC, da Silva IM, Rasgon JL and Sylla M. 2011. Endectocides for malaria control. Trends in Parasitology. 10: 423-428.

48. Dodson BL, Kramer LD and Rasgon JL. 2011. Larval nutritional stress does not affect vector competence for West Nile virus (WNV) in Culex tarsalis. Vector-borne and Zoonotic Diseases. 11: 1493-1497.

47. Rasgon JL. Using infections to fight infections:  Paratransgenic fungi can block malaria transmission in mosquitoes. 2011. Future Microbiology. 6: 851-853.

46. Zhang X, Norris DE and Rasgon JL.  2011. Molecular characterization of Wolbachia endosymbionts and filarial nematodes in Maryland populations of the lone star tick (Amblyomma americanum). FEMS Microbiology Ecology. 77:50-56.

45. Hughes GL, Koga R, Xue P, Fukatsu T and Rasgon JL. 2011. Wolbachia infections are virulent and inhibit the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum in Anopheles gambiae. PLoS Pathogens. 7: e1002043. (May 2011 issue Cover Article)

44. Liu K, Tsujimoto H, Cha S, Agre P and Rasgon JL. 2011. Aquaporin water channel AgAQP1 in the malaria vector mosquito Anopheles gambiae during blood-feeding and humidity adaptation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA. 108: 6062-6066

43. Hughes GL, Ren X, Ramirez JL, Sakamoto JM, Bailey JA, Jedlicka AE and Rasgon JL. 2011. Wolbachia infections in Anopheles gambiae cells: transcriptomic characterization of a novel host-symbiont interaction. PLoS Pathogens. 7: e1001296.

42. The malERA Consultative Group on Basic Science and Enabling Technologies (30 authors, including Rasgon J). 2011. A Research Agenda for Malaria Eradication: Basic Science and Enabling Technologies. PLoS Medicine. 8: e1000399.


41. Sylla M, Kobylinski KC, Gray M, Chapman P, Sarr MD,Rasgon JL and Foy BD. 2010. Mass drug administration of ivermectin in south-eastern Senegal reduces the survivorship of wild-caught, blood fed malaria vectors. Malaria Journal. 9: 365.

40. Ren X and Rasgon JL. 2010. Potential for the Anopheles gambiae densonucleosis virus (AgDNV) to act as an “evolution proof” biopesticide. Journal of Virology. 84: 7726-7729.

39. Chen S, Armistead J, Provost-Javier K, Sakamoto JM andRasgon JL. 2010. Duplication, concerted evolution and purifying selection drive the evolution of mosquito vitellogenin genes. BMC Evolutionary Biology. 10: 142.

38. Provost-Javier KN, Chen S and Rasgon JL. 2010. Vitellogenin gene expression in autogenous Culex tarsalis. Insect Molecular Biology. 19: 423-429.

37. Venkatesan M and Rasgon JL. 2010.  Population genetic data suggest a role for mosquito-mediated dispersal of West Nile virus across the western United States. Molecular Ecology. 19: 1573–1584.


36. Arik AJ, Rasgon JL, Quicke KM and Riehle MA. 2009. Manipulating insulin signaling to enhance mosquito reproduction. BMC Physiology. 9: 15.

35. Rasgon JL. 2009. Multi-locus assortment (MLA) for transgene dispersal and elimination in mosquito populations. PLoS ONE 4: e5833.

34. Venkatesan M, Broman KW, Sellers M and Rasgon JL. 2009. An initial linkage map of the West Nile Virus vector Culex tarsalis. Insect Molecular Biology. 18: 453-463.

33. Jin C, Ren X and Rasgon JL. 2009. The virulent Wolbachia strain wMelPop efficiently establishes somatic infections in the malaria vector Anopheles gambiae. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 75: 3373-3376.


32. Dunning-Hotopp JC and Rasgon JL. 2008. Bacterial sequences in an invertebrate genome. Microbiology Today. Nov: 176-179.

31. Ren X, Hoiczyk E and Rasgon JL. 2008. Viral paratransgenesis in the malaria vector Anopheles gambiae. PLoS Pathogens, 4: e1000135. Featured in Faculty of 1000 Biology and Faculty of 1000 Medicine.

30. Rasgon JL. Wolbachia and Anopheles mosquitoes. In Insect symbiosis, vol. 3. Eds. K. Bourtzis and T. Miller. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL. Ch. 14, 321-372.

29. Wong J, Tripet F, Rasgon JL, Lanzaro GC and Scott TW. 2008. SSCP analysis of scnDNA for genetic profiling of Aedes aegypti. Am. J. Trop. Med. Hyg., 79: 511-517.

28. Billingsley PF, Foy B and Rasgon JL, 2008. Mosquitocidal vaccines: a neglected addition to malaria and dengue control strategies. Trends in Parasitology, 24: 396-400.

27. Rasgon JL, 2008. Stable isotope analysis can potentially identify completely-digested bloodmeals in mosquitoes. PLoS ONE 3: e2198.

26. Rasgon JL, 2008. Using predictive models to optimize Wolbachia-based strategies for vector-borne disease control. Adv. Exp. Med. Biol. 627: 114-125.


25. Marrelli M, Li C, Rasgon JL and Jacobs-Lorena M. 2007. Transgenic malaria-resistant mosquitoes have a fitness advantage when feeding on Plasmodium-infected blood. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 104: 5580-5583. Featured in Faculty of 1000 Biology and Faculty of 1000 Medicine.

24. Venkatesan M, Westbrook CJ, Hauer MC and Rasgon JL. 2007. Evidence for a population expansion in the West Nile virus vector Culex tarsalis. Mol. Biol. Evol. 24: 1208-1218.

23. Venkatesan M, Hauer MC and Rasgon JL. 2007. Using fluorescently-labeled M13-tailed primers to isolate 45 novel microsatellite loci from the arboviral vector Culex tarsalis. Med. Vet. Entomol. 21: 204-208.

22. Rasgon J. 2007. Population Replacement Strategies for Controlling Vector Populations and the Use of Wolbachia pipientis for Genetic Drive. J. Vis. Exp. 5: 225.

21. Gamston C and Rasgon J. 2007. Maintaining Wolbachia in Cell-free Medium. J. Vis. Exp. 5: 223.


20. Rasgon JL, Ren X and Petridis M. 2006. Can Anopheles gambiae be infected with Wolbachia pipientis? Insights from an in vitro system. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 72: 7718-7722.

19. Rasgon JL, Gamston C and Ren X, 2006. Survival of Wolbachia pipientis in cell-free medium. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 72: 6934-6937.

18. Rasgon JL, Cornel AJ and Scott TW, 2006. Evolutionary history of a mosquito endosymbiont revealed through mitochondrial hitchhiking. Proc. R. Soc. B. 273: 1603-1611.

17. Sakamoto JM, Feinstein J and Rasgon JL, 2006. Wolbachia infections in the Cimicidae: Museum specimens as an untapped resource for endosymbiont surveys. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 72: 3161-3167.

16. Rasgon JL, Venkatesan M, Westbrook CJ, and Hauer MC, 2006. Polymorphic microsatellite loci from the West Nile virus vector Culex tarsalis. Mol. Ecol. Notes. 6: 680-682.

15. Sakamoto JM and Rasgon JL, 2006. Geographic distribution of Wolbachia infections in Cimex lectularius L. (Heteroptera: Cimicidae). J. Med. Entomol. 43: 696-700.

14. Sakamoto JM and Rasgon JL, 2006. Endosymbiotic bacteria of bed bugs: Evolution, ecology and genetics. Amer. Entomol. 52: 119-122.


13. Rasgon JL and Gould F, 2005. Transposable element insertion location bias and the dynamics of gene drive in mosquito populations. Insect Mol. Biol. 14: 493-500.

12. Scott TW, Rasgon JL, Black WCIV and Gould F, 2005. Fitness studies: developing a consensus methodology, in Bridging laboratory and field research for genetic control of disease vectors, eds. Knols BGJ and Louis C. Frontis, Wageningen, The Netherlands, Ch. 16, 171-181.

11. Rasgon JL, Styer LM and Minnick SL, 2005. Traditional vector control research should receive higher priority than transgenic efforts to control vector-borne diseases: Con position. Amer. Entomol. 51: 108.

10. Rasgon JL, Styer LM and Minnick SL, 2005. The federal government should support the use of pesticides previously banned in the United States to fight vector-borne diseases in developing countries. Amer. Entomol. 51: 110-111.


9. Rasgon JL and Scott TW, 2004. Phylogenetic Characterization of Wolbachia Symbionts Infecting Cimex lectularius L. and Oeciacus vicarius Horvath (Hemiptera: Cimicidae). J. Med. Entomol. 41: 1175-1178.

8. Rasgon JL and Scott TW, 2004. Crimson: A novel sex-linked eye color mutant of Culex pipiens L. (Diptera: Culicidae). J. Med. Entomol. 41: 385-391.

7. Rasgon JL and Scott TW, 2004. Impact of population age structure on Wolbachia transgene driver efficacy: Ecologically complex factors and release of genetically-modified mosquitoes. Insect Biochem. Mol. Biol. 34: 707-713.

6. Rasgon JL and Scott TW, 2004. An initial survey for Wolbachia (Rickettsiales: Rickettsiaceae) infection in selected California mosquitoes (Diptera: Culicidae). J. Med. Entomol. 41: 255-257.


5. Rasgon JL and Scott TW, 2003. Wolbachia and cytoplasmic incompatibility in the California Culex pipiens mosquito species complex: Parameter estimates and infection dynamics in natural populations. Genetics 165: 2029-2038.

4. Rasgon JL, Styer LM and Scott TW, 2003. Wolbachia-induced mortality as a mechanism to modulate pathogen transmission by vector arthropods. J. Med. Entomol. 40: 125-132.

3. Cornel AJ, McAbee RD, Rasgon J, Stanich MA, Scott TW and Coetze M, 2003. Differences in extent of genetic introgression between sympatric Culex pipiens and Culex quinquefasciatus in California and South Africa. J. Med. Entomol. 40: 36-51.

2. Rasgon JL, 2003. Population subdivision can help or hinder Wolbachia introductions into vector populations. Proc. Mosq. Vec. Control Assoc. CA 71: 80-86.


1. Rasgon JL, 2000. Geographic distribution of Wolbachia infection in the California Culex pipiens complex: infection frequencies in natural populations. Proc. Mosq. Vec. Control Assoc. CA 68: 75-79.


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