Matthew Heintzelman

Matthew Heintzelman

Associate Professor of Biology
Cross Icon


  • Ph.D. Yale University
  • A.B. Dartmouth College

Courses Taught

  • Health and Disease (BIOL 130)
  • Introduction to Molecules and Cells (BIOL 205)
  • Mammalian Histology (BIOL 323)
  • Cell Biology (BIOL 352)

Research Interests

My lab studies a rather unique form of cell locomotion known as gliding. Most cells that can move do so either by swimming (using cilia or flagella) or by crawling (like an amoeba), and much is known about the molecular mechanisms that power these forms of motility. In gliding locomotion, cells move over their substrate without the use of any obvious locomotory organelle and without noticeable change to their form. Among the gliders are the apicomplexan parasites ToxoplasmaPlasmodium (the malaria parasite) and the gregarines, as well as diverse other organisms including the soil alga Chlamydomonas, the colonial protist Labyrinthula and also some diatoms. Our most recent work has focused on gliding in diatoms, a ubiquitous and morphologically stunning group of unicellular microalgae. In most gliding systems, the actin-myosin cytoskeleton plays an essential role, and so much of the work in our lab is dedicated to identifying and characterizing the molecular motors and macromolecular assemblies used by diatoms to power gliding motility. We employ a broad range of molecular and morphological techniques to study gliding motility and the cytoskeletal architecture that supports this fascinating form of cell locomotion.

Selected Publications

Heintzelman, M.B. (2015) Gliding motility in apicomplexan parasites. Semin. Cell Dev. Biol. 46:135-142.

Wakeman, K.C., Heintzelman, M.B., and Leander, B.S. (2014) Comparative ultrastructure and molecular phylogeny of Selenidium melongena n. sp. and S. terebellae Ray 1930 demonstrate niche partitioning in marine gregarine parasites (Apicomplexa). Protist 165:493-511.

Heintzelman, M.B. and Enriquez, M.E. (2010)  Myosin diversity in the diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum. Cytoskeleton. 67:142-151.