James H. Tumlinson, Ph.D.

James H. Tumlinson, Ph.D.

  • Ralph O. Mumma Professor of Entomology
  • Co-director, Center for Chemical Ecology
111 Chemical Ecology Lab
University Park, PA 16802



  • B.S. Virginia Military Institute 1960 - Chemistry
  • M.S. Mississippi State University 1966 - Organic Chemistry, Entomology minor
  • Ph.D . Mississippi State University 1969 - Organic Chemistry, Biochemistry minor

Current Graduate Students

  • Arash Maleki
  • Anne Jones

International Programs/Experience

Collaborating with Professor Naoki Mori and Dr. Naoko Yoshinaga, University of Kyoto, Japan, on research to determine the role of insect produced elicitors of plant defenses in the digestion and metabolic processes of the caterpillars that produce the elicitors. Collaborating with Dr. Baldwyn Torto, International Center for Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe) to study interactions of mosquitoes with plants.

Department Focus Area

Chemical Ecology

Research Interests

Chemicals that affect insect behavior, plant-insect interactions, plant signaling, and plant defenses


As a chemist interested in biological and agricultural systems, I have studied chemicals that affect insect behavior as well as those that induce defenses against insect herbivores in plants. My laboratory has identified insect pheromones and other semiochemicals, investigated the biochemical mechanisms by which chemical signals are produced and released by insects, and studied the behavioral responses, including learned responses, of insects to chemical cues. More recently, we have been investigating the interactions among herbivorous insects, their host plants, and their natural enemies. We found that plants damaged by insect herbivore feeding synthesize and release volatile organic chemicals. Small wasps use these released volatiles as cues to locate and parasitize the caterpillars. The chemical defenses of the plant are induced by compounds in the oral secretion of the caterpillars. We have identified three different classes of elicitor compounds from different species of herbivores. We are investigating the biochemical mechanisms by which some of these, fatty acid-amino acid conjugates, trigger plant chemical defenses. We are also investigating the mechanisms by which plants perceive and respond to volatile organic compounds from neighboring damaged plants. Emphasis is on developing fundamental knowledge and principles that can be applied in environmentally safe pest management programs.

Recent Publications

Yoshinaga, N., Ishikawa, C., Seidl-Adams, I., Bosak, E., Aboshi, T., Tumlinson, J.H., and Mori, N. N-(18-Hydroxylinolenyl)-L-Glutamine: A newly discovered analog of volicitin in Manduca sexta and its elicitor activity in plants. J. Chem. Ecol. 40: 484-490 (2014).

Elliud Muli,, Harland Patch, Maryann Frazier, James Frazier, Baldwyn Torto, Tracey Baumgarten, Joseph Kilonzo, James Ng'ang'a Kimani, Fiona Mumoki, Daniel Masiga, James Tumlinson, Christina Grozinger. Evaluation of the Distribution and Impacts of Parasites, Pathogens, and Pesticides on Honey Bee (Apis mellifera) Populations in East Africa. PLOS one, 9(4): e94459 (2014).

Tumlinson, J.H. The Importance of Volatile Organic Compounds in Ecosystem Functioning. J. Chem. Ecol. 40:212-213 (2014).

Seidl-Adams, I., Richter, A., Boomer, KB, Yoshinaga, N., Degenhardt, J., and Tumlinson, J. H. Emission of herbivore elicitor-induced sesquiterpenes is regulated by stomatal aperture in maize (Zea mays) seedlings). Plant Cell and Environ. In Press (2014).

Yoshinaga, N., Abe, H., Morita, S., Yoshida, T., Aboshi, T., Fukui, M., Tumlinson, J.H., and Mori, N. Plant volatile eliciting FACs in lepidopteran caterpillars, fruit flies, and crickets: a convergent evolution or phylogenetic inheritance? Frontiers in Physiology, 5: in Press (2014).

Nyasembe, V., Teal, P.E.A., Sawn, P., Tumlinson, J.H., Borgemeister, C., and Torto, B. Plasmodium falciparum infection increases Anopheles gambiae attraction to nectar sources and sugar uptake. Current Biology 24: 217-221 (2014).

Bosak, E.J., Seidl-Adams, I.H., Zhu, J., and Tumlinson, J.H. Maize Developmental Stage Affects Indirect and Direct Defense Expression. Environ. Entomol. 42:1309-1321 (2013).

Schwartzberg, E.G. and Tumlinson, J. H. Aphid honeydew alters plant defense responses. Functional Ecology in press (2013).

Halloran, S.T., Mauck, K.E., Fleisher, S.F. and Tumlinson, J.H. Volatiles from Intact and Lygus-Damaged Erigeron annuus (L.) Pers. are Highly Attractive to Ovipositing Lygus and its Parasitoid Peristenus relictus Ruthe. J Chem Ecol. 39:1115-1128 (2013).

Nyasembe, V. O., Teal, P. E. A., Mukabana, W.R., Tumlinson, J. H., Torto, B. Behavioural response of the malaria vector Anopheles gambiae to host plant volatiles and synthetic blends. Parasites & vectors. 5(1):234 (2012).

Harris, C.M., Ruberson, J. R., Meagher, R., and Tumlinson, J. H., Host Suitability Affects Odor Association in Cotesia marginiventris: Implications in Generalist Parasitoid Host-Finding. J. Chem. Ecol. 38:340-347 (2012).

Kuhns, E.H., Seidl-Adams, I. and Tumlinson, J.H. Heliothine caterpillars differ in abundance of a gut lumen aminoacylase 3 (L-ACY-1)--Suggesting a relationship between host preference and fatty acid amino acid conjugate metabolism. Insect Physiology 58: 408-412 (2012).

Böröczky, K., Zylstra, K.E., Mccartney, N.B., Mastro, V.C. and Tumlinson,, J.H., Volatile Profile Differences and the Associated Sirex noctilio Activity in Two Host Tree Species in the Northeastern United States. J. Chem. Ecol. 38:213-221 (2012).

Cooperband, M.F., Böröczky, K., Hartness, A., Jones, T.H., Zylstra, K.E., Tumlinson, J.H., and Mastro, V.C. Male-Produced Pheromone in the European Woodwasp, Sirex noctilio. J. Chem. Ecol. 38:52-62 (2012).

Kuhns, E.H., Seidl-Adams, I. and Tumlinson, J.H. A Lepidopteran Aminoacylase (L-ACY-1) in Heliothis virescens (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) Gut Lumen Hydrolyzes Fatty Acid Amino Acid Conjugates, Elicitors of Plant Defense. Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 42: 32-40 (2012).

Schwartzberg, E.G., Böröczky, K., and Tumlinson, J.H. Pea Aphids, Acyrthosiphon Pisum, Suppress Induced Plant Volatiles in Broad Bean, Vicia Faba. J. Chem. Ecol. 37: 1055-1062 (2011).

Lelito, J.P., Domingue, M.J., Fraser, I., Mastro, V.C., Tumlinson, J.H., Baker, T.C. Field investigation of mating behaviour of Agrilus cyanescens and Agrilus subcinctus. Can. Entomol. 143: 370-379 (2011).

Lait, C.G., Lobaido, M. J., Wiester, A. J., Kossak, S., and Tumlinson, J. H. Comparative kinetics of fatty acid-amino acid conjugate elicitor biosynthesis by midgut tissue microsomes of Lepidopterous caterpillar larvae. Arch. Insect Biochem. Physiol. 75: 264-274 (2010).

Naoko Yoshinaga, Hans T. Alborn, Tomoaki Nakanishi, David M. Suckling, Ritsuo Nishida, James H. Tumlinson and Naoki Mori, Fatty Acid-amino Acid Conjugates Diversification in Lepidopteran Caterpillars. J. Chem. Ecol. 36: 319-325 (2010).

Renuka Shivaji, Alberto Camas, Arunkanth Ankala, Jurgen Engelberth, James H. Tumlinson, W. Paul Williams, Jeff R. Wilkinson and Dawn Sywassink Luthe, Plants on Constant Alert: Elevated Levels of Jasmonic Acid and Jasmonate-Induced Transcripts in Caterpillar-Resistant Maize. J. Chem. Ecol. 36: 179-191 (2010)

Frazier, M.T., Muli, E., Conklin, T. Schmehl. D., Torto, B., Frazier, J., Tumlinson, J., Evans, J.D., Raina, S. A scientific note on varroa mites found in East Africa; Threat or Opportunity? Apidologie 41: 463-465 (2010).

Swanson. J.A.I., Torto, B., Kells, S.A., Mesce, K.A., Tumlinson, J.H., and Spivak, M. Odorants that induce hygienic behavior in honeybees: identification of volatile compounds in chalkbrood-infected honeybee larvae. J Chem Ecol 35:1108-1116 (2009).

Boroczky, K., Crook, D.J., Jones, T.H., Kenny, J.C., Zylstra, K.E., Mastro, V.C. and Tumlinson, J.H. Monoalkenes as contact sex pheromone components of the woodwasp Sirex noctilio. J. Chem. Ecol. 35:1202-1211 (2009).

Lelito, J.P., Böröczky,K., Jones, T.H., Fraser, I., Mastro, V.C., Tumlinson, J.H., and Baker, T.C. Behavioral Evidence for a Contact Sex Pheromone Component of the Emerald Ash Borer, Agrilus Planipennis Fairmaire, J Chem Ecol 35:104-110 (2009).

Rose, U. S. R., Lewis, W. J. and Tumlinson J. H. Extrafloral Schmelz, E.A., Engelberth, J., Alborn, H.T., Tumlinson, J.H., and Teal, P.E.A, Phytohormone-based activity mapping of insect herbivore-produced elicitors. PNAS 106: 653-657 (2009).