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David Obrochta



  • Higher Ed: Science 


David A. O'Brochta, Ph.D. joined the faculty of the University of Maryland in 1989 and is currently a Professor in the University of Maryland Biotechnology's Center for Biosystems Research. He is a member of the Graduate Faculty at UM College Park, an affiliate member of the Department of Entomology (formerly a joint appointee), and a member of the Molecular and Cellular Biology Graduate Program. He is an active participant in the UM College Park's undergraduate GEMSTONE program, a unique honors-certificate program involving student mentoring and team development. He heads the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute's Insect Transformation Facility (a core-like facility for the creation of transgenic insects) and is the North American Editor of the journal Insect Molecular Biology. He has trained 18 postdoctoral fellows and visiting research scientists, served as senior advisor on 7 thesis committees, served as secondary advisor on 15 thesis committees and served as primary advisor on 6 undergraduate research projects.
Dr. O'Brochta's research concerns the molecular biology, genetics and population genetics of insect transposable elements, the development and application of insect biotechnologies based on transposable elements and mosquito/parasite interactions involved in malaria transmission. Transposable elements are recombination systems found in all genomes and play a role in shaping genome evolution in a variety of ways. They are also of great utility because they can be harnessed to serve as gene-integration vectors in the creation of transgenic organisms. Transposable elements are playing a major role in efforts to understand the molecular biology of mosquito/parasite interactions and are also being considered as agents for systematically introducing genes into mosquito populations that affect malaria transmission. Research in Dr. O'Brochta's lab has involved transposable element discovery, isolation, analysis and development, and has lead to the successful development of transgenic insect technologies that are now used for the manipulation of various insect systems. Population genetics studies are examining the dynamics of endogenous mosquito transposable elements in African mosquitoes such as Anopheles gambiae to provide baseline data on the behavior of transposable elements within this species prior to any future intentional introduction as part of a malaria transmission disruption effort. Dr. O'Brochta's research also involves studies of Plasmodium proteases and their roles in mosquito cell invasions during malaria transmission as well as studies focused on the development of a unique malaria vaccine.


Insect molecular genetics, molecular genetics, transposable elements, genetic engineering, transgenic technologies, insect/pathogen interactions,  


Sethuraman, N., M.J. Fraser Jr, P. Eggleston, and D.A. O'Brochta. 2007. Post-integration stability of piggyBac in Aedes aegypti. Insect Biochem Mol Biol. 37:941-951.
Subramanian, R.A., P. Arensburger, P.W. Atkinson, and D.A. O'Brochta. 2007. Transposable element dynamics of the hAT element Herves in the human malaria vector, Anopheles gambiae, s.s. Genetics. 176:2477-2487
Smith RC, Walter MF, Hice RH, O'Brochta DA, and Atkinson PW. (2007) Testis-specific expression of the beta2 tubulin promoter of Aedes aegypti and its application as a genetic sex-separation marker. Insect Mol Biol. 16:61-71.
O'Brochta, D. A., Subramanian, R. A., Orsetti, J., Peckham, E., Nolan, N., Arensburger, P., Atkinson, P. W. and J. D. Charlwood. (2006). hAT element population genetics in Anopheles gambiae s.l. in Mozambique. Genetica. 27:185-98.