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Oregon State University College of Veterinary Medicine eNewsletter

Research Profile-Dr. Michael Kent

February 16th, 2010
Dr. Michael Kent

Dr. Michael Kent

Dr. Michael Kent-Microbiology

Dr. Michael Kent completed his BS degree in Fisheries at Humboldt State University in 1997, earned his MS degree in Biology at San Diego State University in 1981, then completed a PhD in Comparative Medicine at the University of California at Davis in 1985. From there he went to Battelle Marine Research Laboratory in Sequim, Washington to do a post-doctoral fellowship from 1986-1988.  He spend the following 11 years working as Research Scientist, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, at the Pacific Biological Station in Nanaimo, British Columbia. Dr. Kent was head of the Fish Health, Parasitology, and Genetics Section there from 1997-1999.  He joined Oregon State University in 1999, and is currently a professor with joint appointments in the Dept. of Biomedical Sciences in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Dept. of Microbiology in the College of Science.

Two zebrafish with Pseudoloma infections. Fish are emaciated and lower fish has skeletal deformaties.

Two zebrafish with Pseudoloma infections. Fish are emaciated and lower fish has skeletal deformaties.

Dr. Kent’s main areas of research are diseases of fishes and parasitology in general. Since joining OSU in 1999, his group has been investigating diseases of zebrafish, through support by NIH National Center of Research Resources.  There has been a dramatic increase in the number of laboratories using zebrafish as a model organism in biomedical research.  Kent’s lab is conducting research leading to development of methods to control or eliminate the two most common infectious diseases affecting zebrafish facilities; microsporidiosis (caused by Pseudoloma neurophilia) and mycobacteriosis.  Dr. Luiz Bermudez is a key collaborator with the latter. In collaboration with Dr. Robert Tanguay here at OSU and support of the NIEHS Environmental Health Sciences, we have developed the first Specific Pathogen Free (SPF) zebrafish laboratory, for Pseudoloma neurophilia, at the OSU Sinnhuber Aquatic Research Laboratory.

OSU was recently awarded a T32 Training Grant from NIH NCRR for training. Dr. Tanguay is the Director and Dr. Kent is the Deputy Director.  The grant provides training for veterinarians in the use of aquatic species in biomedical research.  Dr. Trace Peterson, DVM, is our first candidate.  He works in Dr. Kent’s laboratory studying modes of transmission of mycobacteria.

Metacercariae of Apophallus sp. in the muscle of coho salmon.  Heavily infected fish may have 4,000 metacercariae/gram of muscle

Metacercariae of Apophallus sp. in the muscle of coho salmon. Heavily infected fish may have 4,000 metacercariae/gram of muscle

Dr. Kent’s lab also studies the impacts of chronic parasite infections on survival of wild coho salmon in Oregon.  This project is funded by Oregon Dept. Fish & Wildlife (ODF&W) through the ODF&W Microbiology Fellowship to a PhD graduate student in Kent’s lab, Jayde Ferguson.  We have recently documented exceptionally heavy infections in certain populations of coho salmon.  Jayde is focusing his research on impacts of these parasites, particularly metacercariae of digenetic trematodes, on overwinter survival in coho salmon from the West Fork Smith River.  Two other projects, in collaboration with Dr. Carl Schreck, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, are investigation of pathogens associated with prespawning mortality in Chinook salmon in the Willamette River, and distribution of intersex trout in National Parks.

Dr. Kent also studies terrestrial parasites.  Recent projects include the study of distribution and taxonomy of spirurid nematodes (Cylicospirura spp.) associated with  large nodules in the stomach of cougars and bobcats, also lead by Jayde Ferguson in the Kent lab and collaborators from ODF&W. They are also evaluating and implementing a new diagnostic test for Haemonochus contuntorus, a nematode parasite that causes serious disease in sheep, goats and llamas in Oregon.  This infection is diagnosed by finding parasite eggs in fecal samples, but it is very difficult to separate the eggs of Haemonchus from other less pathogenic nematodes based on sizeand shape of the egg.  We are modifying and evaluating a lectin-based test developed in Australia, and our modified test is now available to farmers and their veterinarians through the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.   This work was conducted in collaboration with a veterinary student, Megan Jurasek, Dr. Kent, and Janell Bishop-Stewart from the VDL.

Haemonchus eggs and larva, all staining green with special fluorescent stain and observed under UV light.Courtesy of Bob Storey, University of Georgia.

Haemonchus eggs and larva, all staining green with special fluorescent stain and observed under UV light.Courtesy of Bob Storey, University of Georgia.

Cylicospirura subequalis associated with large stomach nodule in a cougar. Courtesy of Dr. Colin Gillin, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Cylicospirura subequalis associated with large stomach nodule in a cougar. Courtesy of Dr. Colin Gillin, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

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