Nora Besansky-led studies featured on the cover of Science

Author: William G. Gilroy

Science cover

Two studies led by Nora Besansky, O’Hara Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Notre Dame and a member of the University’s Eck Institute for Global Health, which resulted in the sequencing the genomes of 16 Anopheles mosquito species from around the world, are featured on the cover of today’s (Jan. 2) edition of the prestigious journal Science.

Anopheles mosquitoes are responsible for transmitting human malaria parasites that cause an estimated 200 million cases and more than 600 thousand deaths each year. However, of the almost 500 different Anopheles species, only a few dozen can carry the parasite and only a handful of species are responsible for the vast majority of transmissions. Besansky and her fellow researchers investigated the genetic differences between the deadly parasite-transmitting species and their harmless (but still annoying) cousins.

The two papers published today in Science describe detailed genomic comparisons of these mosquitoes and the deadliest of them all, Anopheles gambiae. These results offer new insights into how these species are related to each other and how the dynamic evolution of their genomes may contribute to their flexibility to adapt to new environments and to seek out human blood. These newly sequenced genomes represent a substantial contribution to the scientific resources that will advance our understanding of the diverse biological characteristics of mosquitoes, and help to eliminate diseases that have a major impact on global public health.

Besansky’s research focuses primarily on African vectors of human malaria: the anopheline mosquitoes known as Anopheles gambiae and Anopheles funestus.

The Eck Institute for Global Health is a University-wide enterprise that recognizes health as a fundamental human right and endeavors to promote research, training and service to advance health standards for all people, especially people in low- and middle-income countries who are disproportionately impacted by preventable diseases.

Contact: Nora Besansky, 574-850-1061,