Leonard E. Munstermann, PhD

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

Research Interests

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

Public Health Interests

Bed Bugs; DDT; Emerging Diseases; Evolution; Genetics; GIS; Global Health; Leishmaniasis; Lyme Disease; Malaria; Medical Entomology; West Nile Virus; Yellow Fever

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.

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.
  • 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 (Chaparr
  • 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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Contact Info

Leonard E. Munstermann, PhD
Mailing Address
Yale School of Public HealthPO Box 208034
60 College Street

New Haven, CT 06520-8034

Curriculum Vitae

Research Image 2

New version (UV-LED, on right) of CDC llight trap

Research Image 3

bloodfeeding phlebotomine sand fly