Dr. Michael Behnke
Pathobiological Sciences (PBS)
The lab studies the developmental regulation of the medically relevant parasite Toxoplasma gondii, from the rapidly growing tachyzoite, to the slow growing bradyzoite cyst, through to the enteric/sexual stages. This includes new in vitro approaches to study host-parasite biology of the enteric stages that occur within the intestines of definitive hosts.
Michael Behnke is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pathobiological Sciences at the School of Veterinary Medicine, Louisiana State University, where he is studying the Apicomplexan parasite Toxoplasma gondii. The focus of his lab concerns developmental regulation by the parasite from the rapidly growing tachyzoite, to the slow growing bradyzoite cyst, through to the enteric/sexual stages. One area of research expands on work that determined the transcriptional profile of the merozoite stage, the first of the enteric stages the parasite develops into within the intestine of cats. The goal of this project is to develop a tissue culture platform using cat intestinal epithelial cells to provide the parasite the cell type in which it develops into enteric stages, and to use the information gleaned from profiling the merozoite stage to determine the effectiveness of differentiation in this system. Another project will utilize genetic crosses to investigate the transcriptional signatures that indicate differences in bradyzoite developmental competencies between strains to identify the basis of transcriptional control during the developmental process.
A complete list of publications is available at: PubMed