Dr. Justin Anderson


Associate Professor & Chair of Department
Office: 281 Center for the Sciences
Lab: 268 Center for the Sciences
Box 6931, Radford University
Radford, VA 24142-6939, U.S.A.
Tel:(540) 831-5817
E-mail: janderson152@radford.edu

Courses Taught:

  • BIOL 334 - Microbiology
  • BIOL 337 - Immunology
  • BIOL 408 - Principles of Microbiology
  • BIOL 409 - Virology
  • BIOL 105 - Biology for Health Sciences


I am interested in interactions between arthropod-borne viruses (arboviruses) and their mosquito vectors. My training is in mosquito genetics and molecular virology, and my research interests are directed at combining these two aspects toward identifying possible ways to interrupt the transmission of these diseases. My laboratory uses La Crosse virus (LACV) and the dengue viruses (DENV) as a model arboviruses. LACV is a common cause of pediatric encephalitis throughout much of the eastern United States, and is frequently reported in western Virginia. It is transmitted by the mosquito Ochlerotatus triseriatus, the Eastern treehole mosquito, though we regularly use an introduced species, Aedes albopictus, as our model vector. The dengue viruses are responsible for over 50 million cases of dengue fever in tropical areas every year. They are transmitted by Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus.

Research in my lab centers on three areas of inquiry, all directed at developing ways to prevent transmission of arboviruses.

The goal of the first project is to identify the specific protein(s) in the mosquito midgut that arboviruses use as a receptors to infect these mosquito species and to characterize differences between competent vectors and mosquitoes that cannot transmit the virus. Ultimately, this could lead to a potential transmission-blocking vaccine or to population replacement with non-vector mosquitoes. Currently, we are identifying genetic differences among mosquitoes in the prohibitin protein, which has been suggested to be a dengue virus receptor.

The second project aims to identify plant-derived compounds that can be used to kill arboviruses, kill mosquito larvae, or--preferably--do both, with the added benefit that surviving mosquitoes are less likely to transmit a virus. We are currently investigating pokeweed antiviral protein for its utility in preventing arbovirus infection of mosquitoes.

The third project revolves around bacteria that have been isolated from the digestive tracts of Aedes albopictus mosquitoes. We have a library of  >100 bacteria we have collected from these mosquitoes in the mid-Atlantic region, and we are working to characterize these bacteria. Current emphasis is on a set of isolates belonging to the genus Pseudomonas; we are determining whether the pigments these bacteria produce can kill mosquitoes or arboviruses.