Thomas B Lentz, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Biology

Office: TNR 443
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 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 is a genus of viruses are similar in ways to human poxviruses, but are known to infect 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 steep declines observed in amphibian populations worldwide.

Projects in my group focus in two primary directions. The first direction 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? The second direction is to better understand how these viruses work at the molecular level. How are they able to replicate in cells? What viral genes are critical to this process? What factors do they encode for DNA replication, which they carry out in the cytoplasm of the cell?

Projects in both of these areas use molecular and cellular biology 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 molecular biology of these viruses involves studying their replication in cultured cells and measuring the products. These experiments work with Ranavirus isolates in amphibian, reptile, and fish cell cultures. A mechanism that my lab is currently interested in understanding is how these viruses accomplish stages of DNA replication in the cytoplasm of the cell. This is an uncommon property, though not unique in the viral world. To be able to metabolize DNA outside of the nucleus indicates these Viruses encode unique enzymes. We hope to identify the genes and proteins responsible for these processes.

Select Publications

Fritch, 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):xx-xx.
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
Lentz, T.B., Samulski, R.J. (2015).  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​14 Wang, J.C., Nickens, D.G., Lentz, T.B., Loeb, D.D., Zlotnick, A. (2014).  Encapsidated hepatitis B virus reverse transcriptase is poised on an ordered RNA lattice. PNAS 111(31): 11329-34.
2012 Xiao, P.J., Lentz, T.B., Samulski, R.J. (2012).  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. (2011). 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. (2011). 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. (2010). 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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