Anopheles funestus

photo: James Gathany


Overview

It would be difficult to overstate the importance of insects to human health and welfare.  Consider insect-dependent pollination, crop-devouring insects and insect-borne diseases. The success of man's efforts to live with and without insects - for example living with honey bees and without mosquitoes - depend directly on the depth of our understanding of insect biology. 

Honey Bee, Apis mellifera  photo: USDA/ARS

Honey Bee, Apis mellifera  photo: USDA/ARS

Boll Weevil, Anthonomus grandis, photo:  USDA/ARS

Boll Weevil, Anthonomus grandis, photo:  USDA/ARS

Yellow Fever Mosquito, Aedes aegypti  photo: James Gathany

Yellow Fever Mosquito, Aedes aegypti  photo: James Gathany

David O'Brochta's research laboratory is interested in how insects work and what makes them tick.  Mosquitoes are the primary focus of ongoing research.  There is a particular interest  in the physiology and genetics of mosquitoes that make them excellent vectors of parasites and pathogens.   There is also a robust research program focused on developing advanced genetic technologies and tools that provide new opportunities to explore the biology of insects.  Finally, there is also an interest in applying the knowledge and technologies coming out of the laboratory to pressing problems of man and the environment.

Genetic Technologies

 

Mosquito Physiological Genetics

Malaria Vaccine R & D

We are actively adapting, modifying and developing transposon-based genetic technologies that enable insect scientist to introduce genes into insect genomes, and more recently more sophisticated genetic technologies that depend on transposon mobility for finding and analyzing genes.

Using genetic technologies developed in the lab, research is concentrated on the physiological genetics of mosquitoes with a particular interest in the physiology of mosquitoes that relates directly to their abilities to transmit human diseases - more specifically malaria-causing Plasmodium

We are collaborating with the company Sanaria, Inc., on their unique efforts to develop a malaria vaccine from live attenuated malaria parasites isolated from infected mosquitoes by using genetic technologies to increase the number of parasites in the infected mosquitoes used for vaccine production.