Department of Entomology


Thomas Millerucr entomology

Professor of Entomology

Location: Entomology 368
Tel: (951) 827-2278             


Research Specialization

I am responsible for teaching insect physiology and toxicology. My research started on the physiology of the insect circulatory system then switched to insect neurophysiological techniques aimed at describing the mode of action of neurotoxic insecticides. I briefly studied insecticide resistance in cotton pests coinciding with the introduction of synthetic pyrethroids, and then worked on the physiology of cotton pests, especially diapause in the pink bollworm, Pectinophora gossypiella (Saunders). I was asked by USDA-APHIS to explore strategies for improving the sterile insect technique for controlling pink bollworm by replacing radiation with conditional lethal genes. In the summer of 2004 we created our first transgenic pink bollworm with a functioning lethal RIDL gene supplied by Luke Alphey of Oxford University. Our collaborators in USDA-APHIS have applied for permits to field release these transgenic insect strains meant for population suppression. Work on insect transformation brought us in contact with Professor Frank Richards at Yale Medical School who pioneered paratransgenesis for use in disrupting insect-vectored transmission of human diseases. Frank suggested that paratransgenesis could be used to control any insect-vectored plant disease in California. Dave Lampe of Duquesne University in Pittsburgh in 2004 created our first transgenic symbiotic bacteria that produce a lethal gene product that neutralizes the pathogenic bacterium, Xylella fastidiosa that is carried by leafhoppers and causes Pierce’s disease in grapevines. We call this new strategy, Symbiotic Control. The Environmental Protection Agency calls this a microbial pesticide. Currently we are developing Metarhizium fungal candidates as biopesticides to control katydid pests on oil palm trees in Papua New Guinea and katydid pests of nectarines in California. We are also doing risk assessment of nanoparticle delivery mechanisms for symbiotic control candidates.

Former Institution


NATO Postdoctoral Fellow, Zoology Department, University of Glasgow, Scotland.

 Research Associate, University of Illinois, Urbana IL 1967-1968


BA Mathematics/Physics 1962

University of California, Riverside

PhD Entomology 1967

University of California, Riverside



2011 – Elected Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Washington, DC

2010 – Jefferson Science Fellow, US State Department, Washington, DC

2010 – Elected Fellow, Entomological Society of America

2009 - Research accomplishments on display, Insect Museum, Uljin Korea

2007 - Plenary Speaker, International Congress of Insect Biotechnology & Industry, Daegu, Korea

2007 - Keynote Speaker, Korean Association of Biological Sciences, Seoul, Korea

2006 – Plenary lecturer, Czechoslovakian Society of Arts and Sciences, Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic

2006 - Plenary Lecturer, International Symbiosis Congress, Vienna

2005 - Verrall Lecturer, Royal Entomological Society, London

2004 - Plenary Lecturer, Plant Protection Congress, Beijing

2004 - G. J. Mendel Gold Medal for Research in the Biological Sciences, Czech Academy of Sciences

1986 - NAS Eastern European Exchange Program, Czechoslovakia

1978 - 1979 National Academy of Sciences Eastern European Exchange Program, Hungary

1968-69 - NATO Fellow


Miller, T. A. 2011. Genetically modified insects as used in SIT should not require regulation. (Guest editorial) Phytoparasitica DOI 10.1007/s12600-011-0183-3, 4 pp. (Reviewed).

Miller T. A. 2011. Let Hi-tech Genetically Modified Insects Counter Dengue.  BioScience 61: 586-587. (Reviewed invited editorial)

Miller, T. A. 2011. Paratransgenesis as a potential tool for pest control: review of applied arthropod symbiosis. J Applied Entomol. 135: 474-478.

Morrison, N. I., G. Franz, M. Koukidou, T. A. Miller, G. Saccone, L. S. Alphey, C. J. Beech, J. Nagaraju, G. S. Simmons and L. C. Polito. 2011. (Review) Genetic improveemtns to the sterile insect technique for agricultural pests. AsPac J. Mol. Biol. Biotechnol. 18: 275-295.

Wang, J., G. S. Simmons, T. A. Miller, B. E. Tabashnik, and Y. Park  (2011). Global variation in the PiggyBac-like element of pink Bollworm, Pectinophora gossypiella J. Asia Pac Entomol. 14: 131-135.

Miller TA (series editor). 2010. Molecular Genetics of Lepidoptera, ed by M. K. Goldsmith and F. Marec. Taylor & Francis Group LLC, Boca Raton, Florida, 362 pp.

Mikolo B., L.Matos, D.Massamba, V.  Mamonekene and T.Miller (2009). Extracts from the bark the Fagara heitzii (Aubr. et Pel.)(Rutaceae) tree are toxic to two weevils and the American cockroach.  Entomol. Research 39: 401-405.

Alphey, L., K. Bourtzis and T. Miller. 2009. Genetically modified insects as a tool for biorational control. In: I. Ishaaya and A. R. Horowitz (eds.) "Biorational Control of Arthropod Pests: Application and Resistance Management," edited by, Springer-Verlag, Berlin and Heidelberg, Germany.

Lacava, P.T., J. L. Azevedo, T. A. Miller and J. S. Hartung. 2009. Citrus variegated chlorosis (CVC) and interaction with endophytic bacteria: A review. Global Science Books ltd.

Gai, C. S., P. T. Lacava, W. Maccheroni Jr, C. Glienke, W. L. Araújo, T. A. Miller and J. L. Azevedo. 2009. Diversity of endophytic yeasts from sweet orange and their localization by scanning electron microscopy J Basic Microbiol 49: 441-451.

Gai, C. S., P. T. Lacava, M. C. Quecine, M-C. Auriac, J. R. S. Lopes, W. L. Araújo, T. A. Miller and J. L. Azevedo. 2009. Transmission of Methylobacterium mesophilicum by Bucephalogonia xanthophis for paratransgenic control strategy of Citrus Variegated Chlorosis. The Journal of Microbiology 47: 448-454.

Sun, Z., M. Wu, T. A. Miller, and Z.-J. Han. 2008. piggyBac-like elements in cotton bollworm, Helicoverpa armigera (Hübner). J Molecular Entomol. 17: 9-18.

Ramirez, J. L., P. T. Lacava and T. A. Miller. 2008. Detection of Xylella fastidiosa in GWSS saliva. J. Insect Science 8:34, available online: insectscience.org/8.34.

Ramirez, J. L., T. M. Perring and T. A. Miller. 2008. Fate of a Genetically Modified Bacterium in the Foregut of Glassy-winged sharpshooter. J Econ Entomol.101: 1519-1525.

Dugravot, S., E. A. Backus, B. J. Reardon and T. A. Miller. 2008. Correlations of cibarial and precibarial muscle activities of Homalodisca spp. Sharpshooters (Hemiptera: Cicadellidae) with EPG waveforms and excretion. J Insect Physiol. 54: 1467-1478.

Bourtzis, K. and T. A. Miller (editors). 2009. Insect Symbiosis, Volume 3. CRC Press/Taylor and Frances, Boca Raton, FL, London, 408 pp.

Miller, T. A. 2007. Symbiotic control in agriculture and medicine. Symbiosis 44: 67-73.

Miller, T. A. 2007. Applying insect transgenic technology: Scientific and regulatory experiences. Entomological Research 37: 67-75.

Lacava, P. T., J. Parker, F. D. Andreote, F. Dini-Andreote, J. L. Ramirez, T. A. Miller . 2007. Analysis of the bacterial community in glassy-winged sharpshooter heads. Entomological Research 37: 261-266.

Miller, T. A. 2007. Pest and disease challenges and insect biotechnology solutions. Entomological Research 38: 43-40.

Miller, T. A., P. Lacava and J. L. de Azevedo. 2007. The Philosophy of Symbiotic Control in Agriculture and Medicine. In: J. L. de Azevedo and I. S. Melo (eds.) Biological Control 4, (in Portuguese, Controle Simbiótico de Pragas e Doenças. In: Melo, I.S. (Org.); Azevedo, J.L. (Org.). Controle Biológico IV. Jaguariuna: Editora EMBRAPA).

Simmons, G. S., L. Alphey, T. Vasquez, N. I. Morrison, M. J. Epton, E. Miller, T. A. Miller and R. T. Staten. 2007. Potential use of a conditional lethal transgenic pink bollworm Pectinophora gossypiella in area-wide eradication or suppression programmes. In: M. J. B. Vreysen, A. S. Robinson and J. Hendrichs (eds.), Area-Wide Control of Insect Pests: From research to field implementation, Springer, Dordrecht, The Netherlands, pp 119-123.

Hill, B L. and T. A. Miller. 2007. Seasonal appearance of Xylella in vineyard and control of Pierce’s disease in Southern California. Proceedings of Pierce’s Disease Research Symposium, Westin Horton Plaza, San Diego, December 12-14, 2007, pp. 200-201.

Miller, T.A., D. J. Lampe and C. R. Lauzon. 2007. Transgenic and paratransgenic insects in crop protection. In: I. Ishaaya, R. Nauen and R. Horowitz (eds) Insecticide Design using Advanced Technologies, Spring-Verlag, Heidelberg, Germany, pp. 87-103

Miller, T. A. 2007. Examination of glassy-winged sharpshooter entry points of a high-risk vineyard in the Temecula Valley. Proceedings of Pierce’s Disease Research Symposium, Westin Horton Plaza, San Diego, December 12-14, 2007, pp. 221-224.

Miller, T. A. and J. Parker. 2007. Endophyte bacterial populations in grapevines resistant to Pierce’s disease of grapevine. Proceedings of Pierce’s Disease Research Symposium, Westin Horton Plaza, San Diego, December 12-14, 2007, pp. 265-267.

Wang, Jian-jun, X. Ren, T. A. Miller, and Y. Park. 2006. piggyBac-like elements in the tobacco budworm, Heliothis virescens (Fabricius). Insect Molec. Biol. 15 (4): 435-443.

Ren, X., Z.-J. Han and T. A. Miller. 2006. Excision and transposition of piggyBac transposable element in tobacco budworm embryos. Arch. Insect Biochem. Physiol. 63: 49-56.

Ren, X., Y. Park and T. A. Miller. 2006. Intact mariner-like element in tobacco budworm, Heliothis virescens (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae). Insect Molec. Biol. 15: 743-748.

Bourtzis, K. and T. A. Miller (editors). 2006. Insect Symbiosis, Volume 2. CRC Press/Taylor and Frances, Boca Raton, FL, London, 276 pp.

Miller, T. A., D. J. Lampe and C. R. Lauzon. 2006. Transgenic and paratransgenic insects in crop protection. In: Insecticide Design Using Advanced Technologies, Edited by: Isaac Ishaaya, Ralf Nauen and Rami Horowitz, Springer-Verlag, Heidelberg, Germany, pp. 87-103.

Miller, T. A., C. R. Lauzon and D. J. Lampe. 2006. Technological advances to enhance agricultural pest management. In: Transgenesis and the management of vector-borne disease, ed by Serap Aksoy, Landes Bioscience, Georgetown, Texas, web posting Summer, 2006; hard copy 2007..

Miller, T.A. (series editor) 2006. Insect Sounds and Communication. Taylor and Frances, London (CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL) Claridge, M.F. and S. Drosopoulos (eds).

Miller, T.A., C.R. Lauzon, D. Lampe, R. Durvasula and C. Matthews. 2006. Paratransgenesis applied to control insect-transmitter plant pathogens: The Pierce's disease case. In: Insect Symbiosis 2, ed by K. Bourtzis and T.A. Miller. Taylor and Frances, London/CRC Press Boca Raton, FL.

Bourtzis, K. and T. A. Miller (editors). 2006. Insect Symbiosis 2, CRC Press/Taylor and Frances, Boca Raton, FL, London.

Bextine, B., D. Lampe, C. Lauzon, B. Jackson and T.A. Miller. 2005. Establishment of a genetically marked insect-derived symbiont in multiple host plant. Current Microbiol. 50: 1-7.

Wang, J., R. Staten, T.A. Miller and Y. Park. 2005. Inactivated mariner-like transposable elements (MLE) in pink bollworm, Pectinophora gossypiella. Insect Molec. Biol. Vol. 14 (5): 547-553.

Bextine, B., M. Blua, D. Harshman, T.A. Miller. 2005. A SYBR green-based real-time polymerase chain reaction protocol and novel DNA extraction technique to detect Xylella fastidiosa in Homalodisca coagulata. J. Econ. Entomol. 98: 667-672.

Bextine, B.R. and T.A. Miller. 2005. Laboratory-based monitoring of an insect-transmitted plant pathogen system. BioTechniques 38: 184-186.

Miller, T.A. 2004. Rachel Carson and the adaptation of biotechnology to crop protection. Amer. Entomol. 50: 194-198.

Dolezal, P., Bextine, B.R. Dolezalova, R. and T.A. Miller. 2004. Novel methods of monitoring the feeding behavior in Homalodisca coagulata (Say) (Hemiptera: Cicadellidae). Ann. Entomol. Soc. Am. 97: 1055-1062.

Bextine, B. R., D. Harshman, M.C. Johnson and T.A. Miller. 2004. Impact of pymetrozine on glassy-winged sharpshooter feeding behavior and rate of Xylella fastidosa transmission. J. Insect Science. [http:.//www.insectscience.org/4.34/].

Miller, Thomas A. 2004. Designing insects. ActionBioscience.org original article. [http://www.actionbioscience.org/biotech/miller.html).

Bextine, B. and T. A. Miller. 2004. Comparison of whole-tissue and xylem fluid collection techniques to detect Xylella fastidiosa in grapevine and oleander. Plant Disease 88: 600-604.

Bextine, B., S-J. Tuan, H. Shaikh, M. Blua, T. A. Miller. 2004. Evaluation of methods for extracting Xylella fastidiosa DNA from the glassy-winged sharpshooter. J. Econ. Entomol.

Bextine, B., C. Lauzon, S. Potter, D. Lampe and T. A. Miller. 2004. Delivery of a genetically marked Alcaligenes sp. to the glassy-winged sharpshooter for use in a paratransgenic control strategy. Current Microbiol. 48: 327-331.

Nirgianaki, A., G. K. Banks, D. Frohlich, Z. Veneti, H. R. Braig, T. A. Miller, I. D. Bedford, P. G. Markham, C. Savakis, and K. Bourtzis. 2003. Wolbachia infections of the whitefly Bemisia tabaci. Current Microbiology. 47(2): 93-101.

Bourtzis, Kostas and Thomas A. Miller (editors). 2003. Insect Symbiosis. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, 18 chapters by contributing authors, 347 pp.

Kuzina, L. V., E. D. Miller, B. Ge and T. A. Miller. 2002. Transformation of Enterobacter gergoviae isolated from pink bollworm (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae) gut with Bacillus thuringiensis toxin. Current Microbiology 44: 1-4.

Miller, T. A. 2002. Circulatory system. In: Encyclopedia of Insects, ed. by V. H. Resh and R. Carde, Academic Press, San Diego, CA.

Peloquin, J. J., C. R. Lauzon, S. Potter and T. A. Miller. 2002. Transformed bacterial symbionts re-introduced to and detected in host gut. Current Microbiology 45: 41-45.

Peloquin, J. J., T. A. Miller and S. Higgs. 2001. Pink bollworm larvae infection with a double subgenomic sindbis (dsSIN) virus to express genes of interest. J. Cotton Sci. 5: 114-120.

Kuzina, L.V., J. J. Peloquin, D. Vacek, and T. A. Miller. 2001. Isolation and Identification of Bacteria Associated with Adult Laboratory Mexican Fruit Flies, Anastrepha ludens. Current Microbiology 42: 290-294.

Slama, K. and T. A. Miller. 2001. Physiology of heartbeat reversal in diapausing pupae of the tobacco budworm, Manduca sexta (Lepidoptera: Sphingidae). Eur. J. Entomol. 98: 415-431.

Miller, T. A. 2001. Lethal Genes for Use in Insect Control. In: Encyclopedia of Pest Management, Edited by David Pimentel, Cornell University. Marcel Dekker, New York.

Peloquin, J. J., S. T. Thibault, R. Staten, and T. A. Miller. 2000. Germ-Line Transformation of Pink Bollworm (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae) Mediated by the piggyBac Transposable Element. Insect Molecular Biology 9 (3): 323-333.




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