Thomas B Lentz, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Biology

Office: CBB 344

Phone: (715) 346-2626



Ph.D., Cellular and Molecular Biology – University of Wisconsin – Madison (2010)
B.S., Molecular and Cellular Biology – Texas A&M University (2004)


Biology 160 – Introduction to Animal Biology
Biology 210 - Principles of Genetics
Biology 490 – Senior Seminar on Viral Pathogenesis

Professional Affiliations

Global Ranavirus Consortium
Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles

Research Interests

My research investigates the epidemiology and molecular biology of Ranaviruses. This genus of viruses infects cold-blooded vertebrates, including amphibians, reptiles, and fish. The ecological impact of these viruses is considerable. Dispersal of these pathogens has been implicated as a contributing factor in the recent declines we are seeing in amphibian populations around the world.

One principle direction of my research is to better understand the epidemiology of Ranaviruses. Where do Ranaviruses occur in the world? What species are they infecting and impacting? How are they being transported through the environment? There is still a great deal to be learned about these fundamental questions. This project involves students in field surveys for virus prevalence and molecular characterization of wild recovered Ranaviruses.

A second direction of my research is to better understand how these viruses work at the molecular level. How do they replicate in cells? What viral genes are critical to this process? What proteins do they encode for replication of their DNA? A very interesting aspect of these viruses is that they perform stages of DNA replication in the cytoplasm of infected cells. This is a feature in common with human pox viruses and other cytoplasmic DNA viruses. The cell does not normally replicate DNA in the cytoplasm and so the virus likely encodes genes that will re-engineer the cell to accomplish this.

Projects in both directions use molecular and cellular tools. Investigating the epidemiology of these viruses involves development of PCR-based methods for amplification and quantitation of Ranavirus DNA from host specimens or environmental samples. These experiments present the opportunity for field collection of specimens, as well as molecular diagnostic testing. Investigating the DNA replication of these viruses involves infection of cultured cells and detection of the DNA products. These experiments study different Ranavirus isolates/mutants in amphibian, reptile, and fish cell cultures. We hope to identify the genes and proteins responsible for cytoplasmic stages of DNA replication. 

Select Publications

2017Fritch, E.J., Bell, R.C., Stuart, B.L., Lentz, T.B.  Status of Ranavirus in Anurans of Two National Parks in Gabon. Herpetological Review 48(3):561-563.
2017 Lentz, T.B., Ott, L.E., Robertson, S.D., Windsor, S.E., Kelley, J.B., Wollenberg, M.S., Dunn, R.R., Goller, C.C.  Unique Down to Our Microbes – Assessment of an Inquiry-Based Metagenomics Activity. Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education 18(2): doi:10.1128/jmbe.v18i2.1284
2015 Lentz, T.B., Samulski, R.J.  Insight into the mechanism of inhibition of recombinant adeno-associated virus by the Mre11/Rad50/Nbs1 complex. Journal of Virology 89(1):181-94.
20​14Wang, J.C., Nickens, D.G., Lentz, T.B., Loeb, D.D., Zlotnick, A.  Encapsidated hepatitis B virus reverse transcriptase is poised on an ordered RNA lattice. PNAS 111(31): 11329-34.
2012Xiao, P.J., Lentz, T.B., Samulski, R.J.  Recombinant Adeno-Associated Virus: Clinical Application and Development as a Gene Therapy Vector. Therapeutic Delivery 3(7):835-56.
2011 Lentz, T.B., Gray, S.J., Samulski, R.J.  Viral Vectors for Gene Delivery to the Central Nervous System. Neurobiology of Disease 48(2):179-88.
2011 Lentz, T.B. and Loeb, D.D.  Roles of the Envelope Proteins in the Amplification of cccDNA and Completion of Synthesis of the Plus-Strand DNA in Hepatitis B Virus. Journal of Virology 85(22):11916-27.
2010 Lentz, T.B. and Loeb, D.D.  Development of a Cell Cultures that Express HBV to High Levels and Accumulate cccDNA. Journal of Virological Methods 169:52-60.

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