Barry Pittendrigh

Barry Pittendrigh

Department of Entomology

MSU Foundation Professor


Center for Integrated Plant Systems
578 Wilson Rd. Room 203
East Lansing, MI 48824

See a list of Barry Pittendrigh's publications on Google Scholar.



Dr. Pittendrigh’s program spans the areas of structural and functional genomics of insect toxicology, population genetics of pest populations, international development, integrated pest management, and high throughput delivery systems for outreach/extension.  He works on a diversity of insect systems including Drosophila, human lice (he directed the body louse genome sequencing/annotation project), and pest species of cowpea. Prior to becoming an MSU Foundation Professor (2016-present), he held the C.W. Kerns, C.L. Metcalf and W.P. Flint Endowed Chair in Insect Toxicology position (2008-2016) at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign).  He is also the co-founder and co-director of Scientific Animations Without Borders.

Program Description


Dr. Pittendrigh has taught a diversity of courses ranging from host plant resistance, to introductory genetics, pesticide toxicology, and international development. 


The Pittendrigh laboratory has multiple research themes.  First, we use genomic, proteomic and metabolomic approaches to understand induced responses to xenobiotic exposure and the evolution of the molecular mechanisms of insecticide resistance.  Most of this work has occurred through the use of Drosophila melanogaster as a model system.  Second, we have been heavily involved in the structural and functional genomics of head and body lice, while providing both a leadership role in the sequencing of the body louse genome and a collaborative involvement in developing reverse genetic tools that have been applied to elucidate important biological questions in this system.  Third, we have played a leadership role in a decade long (five country) collaborative program to develop pest controls strategies for cowpea pests within a West African context.


Dr. Pittendrigh’s extension/outreach program is focused on virtual communities of practice and high throughput strategies for (1) taking expert knowledge and placing it into a format that is understandable by individuals of all literacy levels and of diverse language backgrounds and (2) making it highly accessible to those that deploy such content.


  • Structural and functional genomics of insecticide resistance
  • Structural and functional genomics of human body lice
  • Integrated pest management of cowpea cropping systems
  • International development
  • High throughput extension/outreach systems


  • Postdoctoral Max Planck Fellowship – Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology, Jena, Germany, 1999
  • Doctorate – University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1999
  • Master of Science – Purdue University, 1994
  • Bachelor of Science (Honors) – University of Regina, 1990

Professional Experience

  • 2016 - Pres. | MSU Foundation Professor, Dept. of Entomology, Michigan State University
  • 2008-2016 | W. Kerns, C.L. Metcalf and W.P. Flint Endowed Chair in Insect Toxicology, Dept. of Entomology, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
  • 2000-2008 | Asst., Assoc., Professor, Dept. of Entomology, Purdue University

Selected Publications

  • Pedra, J.H.F., L.M. McIntyre, M.E. Scharf, and R. Pittendrigh. 2004. Genome-wide transcription profile of field- and laboratory-selected DDT-resistant Drosophila. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 101(18): 7034-7039.
  • Ewen F. Kirkness, [55+ other co-authors], and R. Pittendrigh [Project Coordinator]. 2010. Genome sequences of the human body louse and its primary endosymbiont provide insights into the permanent parasitic lifestyle. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 107(27): 12168-12173.
  • Li-Byarlay, H., J. Massey, R. Pittendrigh, and G. E. Robinson. 2014. Drosophila aggression is associated with silencing nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide dehydrogenases in neuron but not glia. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 111 (34): 12533-12537.
  • Johnson, K. P., J. M. Allen, B. P. Olds, L. Mugisha, D. L. Reed, K. N. Paige, and R. Pittendrigh. 2014. Relative rates of genomic divergence between humans, chimpanzees, and their lice. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B. 281(1777): 1471-2954.
  • Steele, L.D., W. Muir, K. M. Seong, and C. Valero Quiros, M. Rangesa, B. Coates, and R. Pittendrigh. 2014. Genome-wide sequencing and an open reading frame analysis of DDT susceptible (91-C) and resistant (91-R) Drosophila melanogaster laboratory populations. PLoS One. 9(6): e98584.
  • Steele, L.D., B. Coates, C. Valero Quiros, W. Sun, K. M. Seong, W. Muir, J. M.Clark, and R. Pittendrigh. 2015. Selective sweep analysis in the genomes of the 91-R and 91-C Drosophila melanogaster strains reveals few of the ‘usual suspects’ in Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) resistance. PLoS One 10(3): e0123066
  • Sun, W., C. Valero Quiros, K. M. Seong, L. Steele, J.M. Clark, X. Qiu, and R. Pittendrigh. 2015. A glycine insertion in a variable region in the estrogen-related receptor (ERR) is associated with P450 constitutive over-transcription in Drosophila melanogaster. PLoS One. 10(3): e0118779.
  • Ihm, J., M. Lillo, K. Cooper, M. Shumate, J. Bello-Bravo, N. Ba, C. Dabire-Binso, and Pittendrigh. 2015.  Digital divide in Burkina Faso: Exploring differences between farmers and extension agents in access to technology and use. Journal of Agricultural & Food Information. 16(3): 203-220.
  • Pittendrigh, B.R., J.M. Clark, S.H. Lee, K.S. Yoon, W. Sun, L.D. Steele, K. M. Seong. 2015. Body Lice: From the Genome Project to Functional Genomics and Reverse Genetics. In: Short Views on Insect Genomics and Proteomics, (Eds.) R. Chandrasekar, T. Agunbiade and M. Goldsmith, Chapter 1, Vol.1: pp. 1-18.
  • Seong, K.M., W. Sun, J.M. Clark, and R. Pittendrigh. 2016. Splice form variant and amino acid changes in MDR49 confers DDT resistance in transgenic Drosophila. Scientific Reports. 6: 23355.
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