University of California, Riverside

Applied Biological Control Research

Paul Rugman-Jones

Paul Rugman-JonesPaul F. Rugman-Jones, PhD
Associate Project Scientist
Phone: (951) 827-2627

Dr. Rugman-Jones's research at UCR focuses on the problem posed by invasive insect pests to U.S. agriculture. Specifically, he is involved in the molecular identification and characterization of exotic insect pests and their natural enemies.

Based in the Stouthamer lab at UCR, Dr. Rugman-Jones exploits variations in the DNA sequences of individuals to: resolve taxonomic and diagnostic issues; investigate population structure; and, identify the area of origin, and routes of entry, of exotic pests. The accurate identification of pests and natural enemies is fundamental to encouraging fair trade, selecting appropriate mitigation measures, and developing successful biological control programs.


PhD Zoology 2003, University of Sunderland, United Kingdom

BSc (Hons) Environmental Biology 1999, University of Sunderland, United Kingdom

Research Areas

  • DNA Sequencing
  • Molecular species identification
  • Population genetics

Research Interests

The identification of many insects is difficult, particularly if diagnostic keys are restricted to particular life stages. Dr. Rugman-Jones is interested in developing rapid and practical molecular-based methods to aid identification of all life stages of insects, particularly methods that can be readily employed at ports of entry. There is also growing awareness that many insect pests, which on the surface (i.e. morphologically) appear to be a single species, in fact represent complexes of cryptic species (e.g., Rugman-Jones et al. 2010). This is only revealed if one "scratches the surface" and looks at DNA sequences. Dr. Rugman-Jones does exactly that. Taxa for which molecular identification methods are being developed include: armored scale insects and their parasitoids associated with avocado; parasitoids of soft scales on California citrus; egg parasitoids of LBAM and Cactoblastis cactorume; and the thrips of California (around 200 native and exotic species).

Variation in DNA sequences can also be used to make inferences about the connectivity of populations of a species and to predict likely sources of invading populations. Such information may reveal common entry pathways for invasive pest insects and direct the search for natural enemies that may be considered for biological control. He is particularly interested in using molecular population genetics to reconstruct, and investigate the likelihood of, possible scenarios under which exotic species may have been introduced to California. Dr. Rugman-Jones has used such molecular methods to identify the area of origin of the California populations of avocado thrips, Scirtothrips perseae, and avocado lace bug, Pseudacysta perseae.

Current Projects

  • Determining the specific status and areas of origin of three different invasive beetles: walnut twig beetle, Pityophthorus juglandis; polyphagous shot hole borer, Euwallacea sp.; and red palm weevil, Rhynchophorus ferrugineus.
  • Genetic characterization, and confirmation of the establishment, of releases of Tamarixia radiata, a parasitoid wasp which is being reared and released as a biological control agent of Asian citrus psyllid, Diaphorina citri, in California.
  • Genetic characterization of populations of greenhouse thrips, Heliothrips haemorrhoidalis, and citrus thrips, Scirtothrips citri, worldwide.
  • Investigating the effects of mass-rearing on genetic variation and fitness of biological control agents.
  • Characterization of microbial communities associated with the biting midge, Culicoides sonorensis.


25. Eskalen, A., R. Stouthamer, S.C. Lynch, P. Rugman-Jones, M. Twizeyimana, A. Gonzalez, T. Thibault. Host range of fusarium dieback and its ambrosia beetle (Coleoptera: Scolytinae) vector in southern California. Accepted by Plant Disease, 24th January 2013.

24. Rugman-Jones, P.F., M.S. Hoddle, R. Amrich, J.M. Heraty, C.E. Stouthamer-Ingel, R. Stouthamer. 2012. Phylogeographic structure, outbreeding depression, and reluctant virgin oviposition in the bean thrips, Caliothrips fasciatus (Pergande) (Thysanoptera: Thripidae), in California. Bulletin of Entomological Research 102: 698-709.

23. Rugman-Jones, P.F., M.S. Hoddle, P.A. Phillips, G. Jeong, R. Stouthamer. 2012. Strong genetic structure among populations of the invasive avocado pest Pseudacysta perseae (Heidemann) (Hemiptera: Tingidae) reveals the source of introduced populations. Biological Invasions 14: 1079-1100.

22. Polaszek, A., P. Rugman-Jones, R. Stouthamer, E. Hernandez-Suarez, T. Cabello, M. del Pino Pérez. 2012. Molecular and morphological diagnoses of five species of Trichogramma: biological control agents of Chrysodeixis chalcites (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) and Tuta absoluta (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae) in the Canary Islands. BioControl 57: 21-35.

21. Coleman, T., V. Lopez, P. Rugman-Jones, R. Stouthamer, S. Seybold, R. Reardon, M. Hoddle. 2012. Can the destruction of California’s oak woodlands be prevented? Potential for biological control of the goldspotted oak borer, Agrilus auroguttatus. BioControl 57: 211-225.

20. Rugman-Jones, P.F., L.D. Forster, E. Guerrieri, R.F. Luck, J.G. Morse, M.M. Monti, R. Stouthamer. 2011. Taxon-specific multiplex-PCR for quick, easy, and accurate identification of encyrtid and aphelinid parasitoid species attacking soft scale insects in California citrus groves. BioControl 56: 265-275.

19. Ballman, E.S., P.F. Rugman-Jones, R. Stouthamer, M.S. Hoddle. 2011.Genetic structure of Graphocephala atropunctata (Hemiptera: Cicadellidae) populations across its natural range in California reveals isolation by distance. Journal of Economic Entomology 104: 279-287.

18. McDonnell, R.J., P.F. Rugman-Jones, T. Backeljau, K. Breugelmans, K. Jordaens, R. Stouthamer, T. Paine, M. Gormally. 2011. Molecular identification of the exotic slug Arion subfuscus sensu stricto (Gastropoda: Pulmonata) in California, with comments on the source location of introduced populations. Biological Invasions 13: 61-66.

17. Magsig-Castillo, J., J.G. Morse, G.P. Walker, J.L. Bi, P.F. Rugman-Jones, R. Stouthamer. 2010. Phoretic dispersal of armored scale crawlers. Journal of Economic Entomology 103: 1172-1179.

16. Rugman-Jones, P.F., M.S. Hoddle, R. Stouthamer. 2010.Nuclear-mitochondrial barcoding (NuMB) exposes the global pest Western flower thrips, Frankliniella occidentalis (Thysanoptera: Thripidae) as two sympatric cryptic species in its native California. Journal of Economic Entomology 103: 30-38.

15. Triaptsyn, S.V., P.F. Rugman-Jones, G. Jeong. J.G. Morse, R. Stouthamer. 2010.Morphological and molecular differentiation of the Anagrus epos species complex (Hymenoptera: Mymaridae), egg parasitoids of leafhoppers (Hemiptera: Cicadellidae) in North America. Zootaxa 2428: 1-21.

14. Rugman-Jones, P.F., J.C. Andersen, J.G. Morse, B.B. Normark, R. Stouthamer. 2010.Molecular Phylogenetic Placement of the Recently Described Armored Scale Insect Abgrallaspis aguacatae and Several Congeners (Hemiptera: Diaspididae). Annals of the Entomological Society of America 103: 30-38.

13. Rugman-Jones, P.F., J.G. Morse, R. Stouthamer. 2009.  Rapid Molecular Identification of Armored Scale Insects (Hemiptera: Diaspididae) on Mexican ‘Hass’ Avocado. Journal of Economic Entomology 102: 1948-1953.

12. Sumer, F., A.S. Tuncbilek, S. Oztemiz, P. Rugman-Jones, R. Stouthamer. 2009.A molecular key to the common species of Trichogramma of the Mediterranean region. BioControl 54: 617-624.

11. Morse, J.G., P.F. Rugman-Jones, G.W. Watson, J.L. Bi, L.J. Robinson, R. Stouthamer. 2009.High levels of exotic armored scales on imported avocados raise concerns regarding USDA-APHIS phytosanitary risk assessment. Journal of Economic Entomology 102: 855-867.

10. Rugman-Jones, P.F., R. Wharton, T. van Noort, R. Stouthamer. 2009.Molecular differentiation of the Psyttalia concolor (Szépligeti) species complex (Hymenoptera: Braconidae) associated with olive fly, Bactrocera oleae (Rossi) (Diptera: Tephritidae), in Africa and Pakistan. Biological Control 49: 17-26.

9. Hoddle, M.S., J.M. Heraty, P.F. Rugman-Jones, L.A. Mound, R. Stouthamer. 2008.Relationships Among Species of Scirtothrips Shull 1909 (Thysanoptera: Thripidae, Thripinae) Using Molecular and Morphological Data. Annals of the Entomological Society of America 101(3): 491-500.

8. Hoddle, M.S., L.A. Mound, P.F. Rugman-Jones, R. Stouthamer. 2008.Synonomy of Five Scirtothrips species (Thysanoptera: Thripidae) Described from Avocados (Persea americana) in Mexico. Florida Entomologist 91: 16-21.

7. Rugman-Jones, P.F., P.E. Eady. 2008. Co-evolution of male and female reproductive traits across the Bruchidae (Coleoptera). Functional Ecology 22: 880-886.

6.  Rugman-Jones, P.F., P.E. Eady. 2007. Conspecific sperm precedence in Callosobruchus subinnotatus (Coleoptera : Bruchidae): mechanisms and consequences. Proceedings of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences 274: 983-988.

5. Rugman-Jones, P.F., M.S. Hoddle, R. Stouthamer. 2007.Population genetics of Scirtothrips perseae: tracing the origin of a recently introduced exotic pest of Californian avocado orchards, using mitochondrial and microsatellite DNA markers. Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata 124: 101-115.

4. Rugman-Jones, P.F. , M.S. Hoddle, L.A. Mound, R. Stouthamer. 2006.A molecular key for the pest species of Scirtothirps (Thysanoptera: Thripidae). Journal of Economic Entomology 99: 1813-1819.

3. Rugman-Jones, P.F., A.R. Weeks, M. S. Hoddle, R. Stouthamer. 2005.Isolation and charactmoerization of microsatellite loci in the avocado thrips Scirtothrips perseae (Thysanoptera: Thripidae). Molecular Ecology Notes 5: 644-646.

2. Eady, P.E., P. Rugman-Jones, D.V. Brown. 2004. Prior oviposition, female receptivity and last-male sperm precedence in the cosmopolitan pest Callosobruchus maculatus (Coleoptera: Bruchidae). Animal Behaviour 67: 559-565

1. Rugman-Jones, P.F., P.E. Eady. 2001. The sterile male technique: a source of error in estimating levels of sperm precedence? Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata 98: 241-244.

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