James J. Smith

Associate Professor

Ph.D., Michigan State University, 1985

30 East Holmes Hall
Office Telephone: 517-353-3939
Research website

Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution

My primary research interest is the evolutionary biology of fruit flies in the genus Rhagoletis (Diptera:Tephritidae). Within this context, I have particular interests in: molecular evolution; the inference of phylogenies from DNA sequence data; comparative analysis of morphological and molecular character evolution; gene tree species tree conflicts; the natural history and evolution of insect geographic distributions and host plant use; higher order systematics of Diptera; and phylogeny and evolution of plant pathogenic bacteria.

Of particular interest are the evolutionary relationships of the apple maggot, R. pomonella, the blueberry maggot, R. mendax, and the snowberry fly, R. zephyria. The ultimate goal of this aspect of my work is to determine in what time frame and by what genetic mechanisms these species evolved. I am also interested in finding out the natural range of the snowberry fly, and the determinants of the observed northern range limit of the blueberry maggot.

I have begun work more recently in conjunction with colleagues at the USDA Forest Service to try to determine, using molecular genetic markers, the location of the source populations that gave rise to of the Emerald Ash Borer (Agrilus planipennis) infestation in the Great Lakes region. This buprestid beetle most likely arrived in SE Michigan on a container ship, and is threatening to destroy the native ash trees in Michigan (and elsewhere).

Representative Publications

Smith JJ, Jaycox MA, Smith M, Bush GL. In Press. Analysis of mitochondrial DNA and morphological characters in the subtribe Carpomyina (Diptera: Tephritidae). Proceedings of the First Tephritidologist Conference (A. Freidberg, ed.) (refereed Proceedings)

Feder JL, Berlocher SH, Roethele JB, Dambroski H, Smith JJ, Perry WL, Gavrilovic V, Filchak KE, Rull J, Aluja M. 2003. Allopatric genetic origins for sympatric host-plant shifts and race formation in Rhagoletis. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 100: 10314-10319.

Maxson-Stein K, McGhee GC, Smith JJ, Jones AL, Sundin GW. 2003. Genetic analysis of a pathogenic Erwinia sp isolated from pear in Japan. Phytopathology 93: 1393-1399.

Smith JJ, Gavrilovic V, Smitley DR. 2001. Native Vaccinium spp. infested by Rhagoletis mendax (Blueberry maggot; Diptera: Tephritidae) in the Great Lakes region: a potential source of inoculum for infestation of cultivated blueberries. Journal of Economic Entomology, 94: 1378-1385.