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Presently the Kent lab is focusing on two major research areas; diseases of zebrafish in research facilities and impacts of pathogens on wild salmonid fishes. In both areas, we are focusing on the study of chronic infectious diseases. In the past decade there has been a dramatic increase in the use of zebrafish as a model in biomedical research. Underlying chronic diseases are of concern as they relate to non-protocol induced variation in laboratory fish, as they would with any laboratory animal. Microsporidosis (caused by Pseudoloma neurophilia) and mycobacteriosis (caused by various species of Mycobacterium) are the diseases under investigation at this time. This work is supported by NIH NCRR. Dr. Kent is also a co-PI at the Zebrafish International Resource Center, where he assists with health studies and their diagnostic service. We also have an on-line manual on zebrafish diseases.
We recently established the SPF (Specific Pathogen Free) zebrafish research colony here at OSU at the Sinnhuber Aquatic Resource Center in collaboration with Dr. Robert Tanguay. This was supported by the NIEHS Environmental Health Sciences Center and NIH NCRR. Relating to our zebrafish studies, Drs. Kent and Tanguay oversee a T-32 training grant from NIH NCRR to provide research training to veterinarians with aquatic models.
Regarding salmonid fishes, we recently completed a multi-year study on the impacts of parasites on overwinter survival in coho salmon from the West Fork Smith River in Oregon. These fish are Endangered Species Act (ESA) listed as “threaten”. Work was supported by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. We are now investigating the role of multiple pathogen infections with prespawning Chinook salmon from the Willamette River in collaboration with Dr. Carl Schreck, OSU and Dr. Chris Claudill, University of Idaho, and through support of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Dr. Kent also investigates other parasites, including those infecting terrestrial animals. Recently we described spirurid nematodes in cougars in Oregon and modified a new diagnostic test for Haemonchus contortus, an important trichostongyle nematode of sheep, goats and camilds (See publications below). We also showed that what were thought to be gonadal tumors in arrow gobies are actually lesions caused by a new species of Ichthyosporidium (Microsporidia).