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Patricia Pietrantonio

Pietrantonio, Patricia
Patricia Pietrantonio
Professor and Texas AgriLife Research Fellow
HEEP 517
Office: 979-845-9728 Lab: 979-845-9755 Fax: 979-845-6305
Undergraduate Education
Ingeniera Agronoma. Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina
Graduate Education
Ph.D. Entomology. University of California, Riverside
M. Sc. Entomology. University of California, Riverside


The program in Insect Toxicology and Physiology performs both basic and applied research towards controlling pests critical to Texas, the USA and the world.

Basic research focuses on finding novel targets for pest control in arthropods, simultaneously advancing insect and tick physiology and endocrinology. Focus is on G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) that mediate the function of most neuropeptide and peptide hormones and some neurotransmitters. Aiming to understand the roles of GPCRs in the target arthropod species, we have set a pipeline for GPCRs validation, from functional expression in cells (kinin, pyrokinin, periviscerokinin, calcitonin, diuretic hormone, and sNPF receptors) to gene silencing in vivo, followed by analyses of its effects on physiology and behavior (diuresis, feeding, and/or reproductive fitness). In a comparative endocrinology approach, we work with a broad number of arthropod species: mosquito Aedes aegypti, red imported fire ant (Solenopsis invicta), and the cattle fever tick, Rhipicephalus microplus. The thrust for blood feeders is the comprehensive analysis of hormones regulating water balance and in the multifunctional arthropod kinin neuropeptides. Techniques include analysis of receptor gene expression, immunohistochemistry, in situ hybridization, bioassays with tissues and whole arthropods. High-throughput screening of chemical libraries yields novel ligands for arthropod receptors.

In applied research, we monitor pesticide resistance in important pests of human and animal health, and of crop production. Emphasis is on pyrethroid resistance of the yellow fever mosquito, Aedes aegypti, and the southern house mosquito, Culex quinquefasciatus in Harris county (Houston area). In the cotton bollworm, Helicoverpa zea, we focused on pyrethroids and B.t. toxins expressed in transgenic cotton. Specifically, we analyze field-collected and laboratory reared insects utilizing molecular and biochemical techniques and translate these findings to diagnostic tools.

The laboratory is state-of-the-art in facilities and equipment with a major molecular biology laboratory (BL2 level), tissue culture room (BL2), insect toxicology laboratory (BL1) and instrumentation for cell and tissue fluorescence imaging, analysis of gene expression, calcium fluorescence and bioluminescence assays, highthroughput screening assays, etc.


ENTO 619 – Graduate Course in Insect Toxicology: Web supported with power point presentations, lecture notes and animations – Every other Spring semester since 1997

ENTO 615 – Graduate Course in Insect Physiology: Every fall semester

ENTO 691 – Graduate Research: Ongoing; see graduate student list

I am an Editorial Board Member of the journal Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology,  and an Associate Editor for the journal Archives of Insect Biochemistry and Physiology. I served as Editorial Board Member of the journal Insect Molecular Biology until 2019. I have been a Board Member of the “Acarological Society of America” since 2016-current.


†Post doc supervised ¶Graduate student supervised *Corresponding author.

Xiong C, Baker D, Pietrantonio PV. 2019.The Cattle Fever Tick, Rhipicephalus microplus, as a model for forward pharmacology to elucidate kinin GPCR function in the Acari. Front Physiol.10:1008. eCollection 2019. DOI: 10.3389/fphys.2019.01008

Brock, CM, Temeyer, KB, Tidwell, J, Yang, Y, Blandon, MA, Carreón-Camacho, D, Longnecker, MT, Almazán, C, Pérez de León, AA, Pietrantonio, PV. 2019. The leucokinin-like peptide receptor from the cattle fever tick, Rhipicephalus microplus, is localized in the midgut periphery and receptor silencing with validated double-stranded RNAs causes a reproductive fitness cost. Int. J. Parasitol. DOI:10.1016/j.ijpara.2018.11.006

Calkins, TL, Tamborindeguy, C, Pietrantonio, PV. 2018. GPCR annotation, G proteins, and transcriptomics of fire ant (Solenopsis invicta) queen and worker brain: An improved view of signaling in an invasive superorganism. Gen. Comp. Endocrinol.DOI: 10.1016/j.ygcen.2018.12.008

Pietrantonio, PV, Xiong, C, Nachman, RJ, Shen, Y. 2018. G protein-coupled receptors in arthropod vectors: omics and pharmacological approaches to elucidate ligand-receptor interactions and novel organismal functions. Curr Opin Insect Sci 29:12-20.DOI:10.1016/j.cois.2018.05.016

Xiong, C, Kaczmarek, K, Zabrocki, J, Pietrantonio, PV, Nachman, RJ. 2018. Evaluation of Aib and PEG-polymer insect kinin analogs on mosquito and tick GPCRs identifies potent new pest management tools with potentially enhanced biostability and bioavailability. Gen. Comp. Endocrinol.DOI:10.1016/j.ygcen.2018.08.002

Travis L. Calkins; Mei‐Er Chen, Arinder K. Arora, Chloe Hawkings, Cecilia Tamborindeguy, Patricia V. Pietrantonio* 2018. Brain gene expression analyses in virgin and mated queens of fire ants reveal mating‐independent and socially regulated changes. 2018 Apr 2;8(8):4312-4327. DOI:10.1002/ece3.3976

Kwon H, Ali Agha M, Smith RC, Nachman RJ, Marion-Poll F, Pietrantonio PV. Leucokinin mimetic elicits aversive behavior in mosquito Aedes aegypti (L.) and inhibits the sugar taste neuron. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2016 Jun 21;113(25):6880-5. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1520404113. Epub 2016 Jun 6. DOI:10.1073/pnas.1520404113

Gulia-Nuss M, Nuss AB, Meyer JM, Sonenshine DE, Roe RM, Waterhouse RM, Sattelle DB, de la Fuente J, Ribeiro JM, Megy K, Thimmapuram J, Miller JR, Walenz BP, Koren S, Hostetler JB, Thiagarajan M, Joardar VS, Hannick LI, Bidwell S, Hammond MP, Young S, Zeng Q, Abrudan JL, Almeida FC, Ayllón N, Bhide K, Bissinger BW, Bonzon-Kulichenko E, Buckingham SD, Caffrey DR, Caimano MJ, Croset V, Driscoll T, Gilbert D, Gillespie JJ, Giraldo-Calderón GI, Grabowski JM, Jiang D, Khalil SM, Kim D, Kocan KM, Koči J, Kuhn RJ, Kurtti TJ, Lees K, Lang EG, Kennedy RC, Kwon H, Perera R, Qi Y, Radolf JD, Sakamoto JM, Sánchez-Gracia A, Severo MS, Silverman N, Šimo L, Tojo M, Tornador C, Van Zee JP, Vázquez J, Vieira FG, Villar M, Wespiser AR, Yang Y, Zhu J, Arensburger P, Pietrantonio PV, Barker SC, Shao R, Zdobnov EM, Hauser F, Grimmelikhuijzen CJ, Park Y, Rozas J, Benton R, Pedra JH, Nelson DR, Unger MF, Tubio JM, Tu Z, Robertson HM, Shumway M, Sutton G, Wortman JR, Lawson D, Wikel SK, Nene VM, Fraser CM, Collins FH, Birren B, Nelson KE,
Caler E, Hill CA. Genomic insights into the Ixodes scapularis tick vector of Lyme disease. Nat Commun. 2016 Feb 9;7:10507. DOI:10.1038/ncomms10507

Yang Y, Nachman RJ, Pietrantonio PV. Molecular and pharmacological characterization of the Chelicerata pyrokinin receptor from the southern cattle tick, Rhipicephalus (Boophilus) microplus. Insect Biochem Mol Biol. 2015 May;60:13-23. doi: 10.1016/j.ibmb.2015.02.010. Epub 2015 Mar 4.

Bajracharya P, Lu HL, Pietrantonio PV. The red imported fire ant (Solenopsis invicta Buren) kept Y not F: predicted sNPY endogenous ligands deorphanize the short NPF (sNPF) receptor. PLoS One. 2014 Oct 13;9(10):e109590. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0109590. eCollection 2014. PubMed PMID: 25310341; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4195672.

Castillo P, Pietrantonio PV. Differences in sNPF receptor-expressing neurons in brains of fire ant (Solenopsis invicta Buren) worker subcastes: indicators for division of labor and nutritional status? PLoS One. 2013 Dec 20;8(12):e83966. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0083966. eCollection 2013. PubMed PMID: 24376775; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3869854.

Yang Y, Bajracharya P, Castillo P, Nachman RJ, Pietrantonio PV. Molecular and functional characterization of the first tick CAP2b (periviscerokinin) receptor from Rhipicephalus (Boophilus) microplus (Acari: Ixodidae). Gen Comp Endocrinol. 2013 Dec 1;194:142-51. doi: 10.1016/j.ygcen.2013.09.001. Epub 2013 Sep 17. PubMed PMID: 24055303.

Kwon H, Pietrantonio PV. Calcitonin receptor 1 (AedaeGPCRCAL1) hindgut expression and direct role in myotropic action in females of the mosquito Aedes aegypti (L.). Insect Biochem Mol Biol. 2013 Jul;43(7):588-93. doi: 10.1016/j.ibmb.2013.03.005. Epub 2013 Mar 22. PubMed PMID: 23523607.

Kwon H, Lu HL, Longnecker MT, Pietrantonio PV. Role in diuresis of a calcitonin receptor (GPRCAL1) expressed in a distal-proximal gradient in renal organs of the mosquito Aedes aegypti (L.). PLoS One. 2012;7(11):e50374. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0050374. Epub 2012 Nov 29. Erratum in: PLoS One. 2013;8(10). doi:10.1371/annotation/9d100bb6-b5ee-4fd0-81e9-c315523e7f75. PubMed PMID: 23209727; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3510207.

Kersch CN, Pietrantonio PV. Mosquito Aedes aegypti (L.) leucokinin receptor is critical for in vivo fluid excretion post blood feeding. FEBS Lett. 2011 Nov 16;585(22):3507-12. doi: 10.1016/j.febslet.2011.10.001. Epub 2011 Oct 15. PubMed PMID: 22019456.

Sooresh A, Kwon H, Taylor R, Pietrantonio P, Pine M, Sayes CM. Surface functionalization of silver nanoparticles: novel applications for insect vector control. ACS Appl Mater Interfaces. 2011 Oct;3(10):3779-87. doi: 10.1021/am201167v. Epub 2011 Oct 6. PubMed PMID: 21957003.

Lu HL, Pietrantonio PV. Insect insulin receptors: insights from sequence and caste expression analyses of two cloned hymenopteran insulin receptor cDNAs from the fire ant. Insect Mol Biol. 2011 Oct;20(5):637-49. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2583.2011.01094.x. Epub 2011 Jul 29. PubMed PMID: 21797944.

Lu HL, Pietrantonio PV. Immunolocalization of the short neuropeptide F receptor in queen brains and ovaries of the red imported fire ant (Solenopsis invicta Buren). BMC Neurosci. 2011 Jun 14;12:57. doi: 10.1186/1471-2202-12-57. PubMed PMID: 21672256; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3146894.

Nachman RJ, Pietrantonio PV. Interaction of mimetic analogs of insect kinin neuropeptides with arthropod receptors. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2010;692:27-48. Review. PubMed PMID: 21189673.

Lu HL, Kersch C, Pietrantonio PV. The kinin receptor is expressed in the Malpighian tubule stellate cells in the mosquito Aedes aegypti (L.): a new model needed to explain ion transport? Insect Biochem Mol Biol. 2011 Feb;41(2):135-40. doi: 10.1016/j.ibmb.2010.10.003. Epub 2010 Nov 5. PubMed PMID: 21056665; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3031248.

Hopkins BW, Longnecker MT, Pietrantonio PV. Transcriptional overexpression of CYP6B8/CYP6B28 and CYP6B9 is a mechanism associated with cypermethrin survivorship in field-collected Helicoverpa zea (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) moths. Pest Manag Sci. 2011 Jan;67(1):21-5. doi: 10.1002/ps.2034. PubMed PMID: 20949449.

Hopkins BW, Pietrantonio PV. The Helicoverpa zea (Boddie) (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) voltage-gated sodium channel and mutations associated with pyrethroid resistance in field-collected adult males. Insect Biochem Mol Biol. 2010 May;40(5):385-93. doi: 10.1016/j.ibmb.2010.03.004. Epub 2010 Mar 31. PubMed PMID: 20362057.

Hopkins BW, Pietrantonio PV. Differential efficacy of three commonly used pyrethroids against laboratory and field-collected larvae and adults of
Helicoverpa zea (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) and significance for pyrethroid resistance management. Pest Manag Sci. 2010 Feb;66(2):147-54. doi:
10.1002/ps.1847. PubMed PMID: 19757481.

Lu HL, Vinson SB, Pietrantonio PV. Oocyte membrane localization of vitellogenin receptor coincides with queen flying age, and receptor silencing by RNAi disrupts egg formation in fire ant virgin queens. FEBS J. 2009 Jun;276(11):3110-23. doi: 10.1111/j.1742-4658.2009.07029.x. Epub 2009 Apr 23. PubMed PMID: 19490112.


8th International Symposium in Molecular Insect Science 2019. Title: The leucokinin-like receptor from the cattle fever tick, Rhipicephalus microplus, is localized in the midgut periphery and receptor silencing decreases reproductive fitness. Oral presentation selected from submitted abstract. Sitges, Spain. 7-10 July, 2019.

International Conference of the Korean Society of Applied Entomology 2019. Title: A superorganism on the move: will “social endocrinology” help stop the global spread of the fire ant? Invited to the Special Symposium organized by the Animal and Plant Quarantine Agency (Korea) “Prevention of Global Spreading of a Red Imported Fire Ant”.  Cheongju, Korea. April 2019.

29th Conference of European Comparative Endocrinologists (CECE) 2018, “State-of-the-art speaker” Title: Omics and the physiology of a superorganism: GPCR signaling and brain transcriptomes of the fire ant (Solenopsis invicta Buren) toward linking nutrition and reproduction. University of Glasgow, Scotland.  August 2018.

University of Nevada, Reno. Department of Biology and Interdisciplinary Program in Molecular Sciences. Title: Neuropeptide GPCRs in ticks and mosquitoes: from vector biology to targets for control. April 18, 2018.

EMBO Kolymbari (Crete) Conference of the population and molecular biology of mosquitoes. A leucokinin mimetic elicits aversive behavior in females of Aedes aegypti and inhibits the sucrose taste neuron. Crete, Kolymbari, Greece. July 23-27 2017. (Selected oral presentation)

East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina. Department of Biology. Title: A kinin neuropeptide GPCR in legs and mouthparts mediates aversive behavior and modulates sugar taste in the mosquito Aedes aegypti (L.). September 5-7, 2017.

28th Conference of European Comparative Endocrinologists (CECE) 2016. “State-of-the-art speaker.” Are GPCRs “back” to insect taste perception? A kinin mimetic elicits aversive behavior in mosquito Aedes aegypti and inhibits the sugar taste neuron. CECE  Leuven, Belgium. August 21-15 2016

International Congress of Entomology Orlando Fl., 2016. Neuropeptide signaling in fire ants. Symposium organized by Y. Park and E. Johnson. Sept. 25-30, 2016, Orlando, Florida, USA. 25 min oral presentation. https://esa.confex.com/esa/ice2016/meetingapp.cgi/Person/57453

GRANTS (Last 5 years)

Pietrantonio, P.V. FY 2010-2021. Title: Queen brain-ovary signaling: testing the signaling model of neuropeptides and receptors towards reproduction interference in fire ants. Texas A&M AgriLife Research Invasive Ant Research and Management Project. $100,000.

Pietrantonio, PV and K. Temeyer. Towards novel acaricide development against cattle fever tick: GPCR target validation and identification of chemical leads. USDA NIFA-AFRI- Animal Health and Disease. Funds: $500,000. 2016-2020.

Weaver et al. (Director). CDC- Western Gulf Center of Excellence in Vector Borne Diseases. Subaward: Pietrantonio, P.V. Aim 1. Impact of Insecticide Resistance in Vector Control. Insecticide Resistance Management. Funds: $467,901. 2017-2021.

Pietrantonio, PV and S. Yang. Discover new targets and develop novel chemicals to deter mosquito feeding using a GPCR pipeline and computational modeling. Vector Biology Funds State of Texas-State Appropriations Competitive Intramural. Funds: $100,000 FY 18-19.

Pietrantonio, PV. Development of molecular diagnostics tools for detection of Cry1Ac/Cry1Ab (Bt) resistance in bollworm, Helicoverpa zea. Cotton Incorporated. Funds: $20,000. 2019.

Pietrantonio, PV. Fire ant brain -ovary signaling: neuropeptides and receptors as the key to reproduction interference. Funds: $100,000. FY 17/19.

Pietrantonio, P.V. and Co-PI, C. Tamborindeguy. 2013. Title: Neuropeptide receptors and identification of genes in signaling networks involved in reproduction and nutrition in the Red Imported Fire Ant. NSF-IOS. 1257837- 03/01-2013 to 02/29/2016. Funds: $601,904.