Zainulabeuddin Syed Assistant Professor

Signaling and Reception in Insect Chemosensation
Zainulabeuddin Syed

Research Interests:

Representing more than half of all the known living organisms, insects are the most diverse and most adaptable organisms on earth. They greatly impact today’s society by destroying or consuming almost one third of our domesticated crops and transmitting various life threatening pathogens. Malaria, one of the many diseases transmitted by mosquitoes, takes a human life every 30 seconds in Africa alone.

Like all living organisms, insects detect and respond to chemicals in their environment. Their remarkable success on earth has largely been due to their ability to adapt to new environments and utilize new food resources. To accomplish this, they display an amazing diversity in sensory structure and function. In our laboratory we combine molecular, cellular, genetic and whole organismal studies to understand the process of olfaction in insects with an overarching goal of exploiting this basic understanding towards their management.



  • Assistant Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, Eck Institute of Global Health, University of Notre Dame, IN 2011- Present
  • Post-doctoral Scholar, Department of Entomology, University of California, Davis, CA 2005-2011
  • Post-doctoral Scholar, Institute of Neurobiology, Free University, Berlin, Germany 2003-2005
  • Doctoral Student, Institute of Biology, Neuchâtel University, Switzerland 1999-2002
  • Research Associate, Department of Entomology, Directorate of Rice Research, Hyderabad, India 1995-1998
  • Ph.D., Sensory Physiology and Behavior, University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland 2002
  • M.Sc., Agricultural Entomology, Aligarh Muslim University, India 1994
  • B.Sc., Combined Sciences, Osmania University, India 1992


Recent Papers:

  • Duman-scheel, M. and Syed, Z. 2015. Developmental neurogenetics of sexual dimorphism in Aedes aegypti. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution. 3: 61. doi:10.3389/fevo.2015.00061
  • Syed. Z. 2015 Chemical ecology and olfaction in arthropod vectors of diseases. Current Opinion in Insect Science. doi:10.1016/j.cois.2015.04.011
  • Sullivanan, G.A., Liu, C. and Syed, Z. 2014. Oviposition signals and their neuroethological correlates in the Culex pipiens complex. Infection, Genetics and Evolution. doi:10.1016/j.meegid.2014.10.007.
  • Reidenbach KR, Cheng C, Liu F, Liu C, Besansky NJ and Syed, Z. 2014. Cuticular differences associated with aridity acclimation in African malaria vectors carrying alternative arrangements of inversion 2La. Parasite & Vectors doi: 10.1186/1756-3305-7-176.
  • Rund, S.S., Bonar, N.A., Champion, M.M., Ghazi, J.P., Houk, C.M., Leming, M.T., Syed, Z. and Duffield, G.E. 2013. Daily rhythms in antennal protein and olfactory sensitivity in the malaria mosquito Anopheles gambiae. Scientific Reports. 10.1038/srep02494
  • Pelletier, J., Guidolin, A., Syed, Z., Cornel, A.J. and Leal, W.S. 2010.Knockdown of a mosquito odorant-binding protein involved in the sensitive detection of oviposition attractants. Journal of Chemical Ecology. 36: 245-248. Journal cover.
  • Syed, Z. and Leal, W. S. 2009. Acute olfactory response of Culex mosquitoes to a human- and bird-derived attractant. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science USA. 106: 18803–18808
    Recommended by the “Faculty of 1000”
    Highlighted “In this issue of the PNAS”
    Commentary in Science
  • Syed, Z. and Leal, W.S. 2008. Mosquitoes smell and avoid the insect repellent DEET. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science USA. 105: 13598 – 603
    Recommended by the “Faculty of 1000″
    From the cover and Commentary in PNAS.