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Leonard Munstermann

PhD, MA, BA
Senior Research Scientist in Epidemiology (Microbial Diseases); Head Curator of Entomology (Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History)

Research Summary

Tools of molecular genetics focused on the insect vector provide clues to genomic organization, population structure and evolutionary relationships. Dr. Munstermann’s research emphasizes three genetic approaches: (1) Gene linkage mapping provides genetic backbone for isolating genes and macrogenomic evolution; (2) Genetic variability within an insect species in the form of isoenzymes or DNA base pair substitutions indicate population structure, population origin or taxonomic relatedness; and (3) Identification of closely related vector species by (biochemical) genetic means. Research organisms are Aedes mosquitoes and phlebotomine sand flies of New and Old World.

A long term research focus is the geographic distribution of the insect vectors and the association with disease transmission. Species distribution maps, correlation to environmental factors and location of disease cases form a data matrix analyzable in a Geographical Information System. To better predict risk of disease outbreak-knowledge of vector species involved, vector distribution, and vector competence is required. These have been applied in the Mosquitoes of Sardinia Project and the Biogeography of New World Sand Flies.

Specialized Terms: Molecular genetics; Insect vectors; Phlebotomine sand flies; Entomology; Phylogeny; Taxonomy; Speciation

Extensive Research Description

  • Systematic Revision of the Genus Lutzomyia (400 species), New World Vectors of Leishmaniasis
  • Insect biodiversity in tropical forests
  • New Trap Methods for Insect Vectors
  • Translating Research in Medical Entomology intoK-12 Curricula
  • Epidemiological Interactions between Human,Sandfly, Reservoir Host and Parasite in a Novel Epidemic Situation of Cutaneous leishmaniasis.

Coauthors

Research Interests

Colombia; DDT; El Salvador; Entomology; Biological Evolution; Genetics; Guatemala; Honduras; Insect Vectors; Leishmaniasis; Leishmaniasis, Visceral; Malaria; West Nile virus; Global Health; Yellow Fever; Leishmaniasis, Cutaneous; Communicable Diseases, Emerging

Public Health Interests

Emerging Infectious Diseases; Evolution; Genetics, Genomics, Epigenetics; GIS/Disease Mapping; Global Health; Infectious Diseases; Malaria; Mosquito-borne Diseases; Toxicology; Vector-borne Diseases; Tick-borne Diseases

Research Images

Selected Publications