Leonard E. Munstermann PhD

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

Research Interests

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

Current Projects

  • 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.

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.

Selected Publications

  • Cohnstaedt, L.W., Gillen, J.I., and Munstermann, L.E. (2008). Light-emitting diode technology improves insect trapping. J. Am. Mosq. Contr. Assoc. 24(2): 331-334.
  • Usmani-Brown, S., Cohnstaedt, L., and Munstermann, L.E. (2009). Population genetics of Aedes albopictus (Diptera: Culicidae) invading populations, using a mitochondrial nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide dehydrogenasea subunit 5 sequences. Ann. Entomol. Soc. Am. 102(1): 144-150.
  • Santaella, J., Ocampo, C.B., Saravia, N.G., Méndez, F., Góngora, R., Gomez, M.A., Munstermann, L.E., and Quinnell, R.J. (2011). Leishmania (Viannia) infection in the domestic dog in Chaparral, Colombia. Am. J. Trop. Med. Hyg. 84(5): 674-680.
  • Valderrama-Ardila, C., Alexander, N., Ferro, C., Cadena, H., Marín, D., Holford, T.R., Munstermann, L.E., and Ocampo, C.B. (2010). Environmental risk factors for the incidence of American cutaneous leishmaniasis in a sub-Andean zone of Colombia (Chaparral, Tolima). Am. J. Trop. Med. Hyg. 82(2): 243-250.
  • Cohnstaedt, L.W., Beati, L., Caceres, A.G., Ferro, C., Munstermann, L.E. (2011). Phylogenetics of the phlebotomine sand fly group Verrucarum (Diptera: Psychodidae: Lutzomyia). Am. J. Trop. Med. Hyg. 84(6): 913-922.
  • Munstermann, L.E. Phlebotomine Sand Flies, the Psychodidae. In: Biology of Disease Vectors, 2nd Edition, Marquardt, W.C., Black, W.C., Freier, J., Hagedorn, H., Hemingway, J., Higgs, S., James, A.A., and Kondratieff, B., (Eds.) Elsevier Science, San Diego, California, 141-151, 2004.

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