Archive for the News Category

National Science Foundation grants Professor Woodhams the prestigious Faculty Early Career Development Award

Dr. Woodhams pictured with Northern leopard frog, a focal species for investigating microbiome interactions with host skin defenses

The National Science Foundation has granted Professor Woodhams the prestigious Faculty Early Career Development Award.  The award will fund five years of research in the Woodhams Lab, focusing on Microbiome Regulation by Amphibian Skin Peptides, and will support a new course, Microbiome and Disease Ecology Lab, focused on authentic research experiences for undergraduates. Congratulations Dr. Woodhams!

NSF Grant Summary | UMass Boston Press Release 

Nature Ecology and Evolution publishes a new collaborative study with UMass Boston researchers

Pictured: Molly Bletz and Doug Woodhams smiling with a frog

Nature Ecology and Evolution published a new collaborative study with UMass Boston researchers Jordan Kueneman, Molly Bletz, Rob Stevenson, and Doug Woodhams.  The study found that bioclimatic factors were important in shaping the skin microbiome of amphibians at a global scale. Samples from over 2,300 amphibians of 205 species were included in the study.

Kueneman JG, Bletz MC, McKenzie VJ, Becker CG, Joseph MB, Abarca JG, Archer H, Arellano AL, Bataille A, Becker M, Belden LK, Crottini A, Geffers R, Haddad CFB, Harris RN, Holden WM, Hughey M, Jarek M, Kearns PJ, Kerby JL, Kielgast J, Kurabayashi A, Longo AV, Loudon A, Medina D, Nuñez JJ, Perl RGB, Pinto-Tomás A, Rabemananjara FCE, Rebollar EA, Rodríguez A, Rollins-Smith L, Stevenson R, Tebbe CC, Vargas Asensio G, Waldman B, Walke JB, Whitfield SM, Zamudio KR, Zúñiga Chaves I, Woodhams DC, Vences M. (2019) Community richness of amphibian skin bacteria correlates with bioclimate at the global scale. Nat Ecol Evol. 2019 Mar;3(3):381-389.

Read this publication  |  Read the press release

Science Magazine publishes Woodhams Lab findings

Science Magazine publishes a sweeping study including 15 years of Dr. Woodhams’ research. In collaboration with Jamie Voyles at University of Nevada, Reno, the study describes rebounding populations of amphibians in Panama. Rather than a weakening pathogen, the research shows that host skin defenses or biotic community factors may be responsible for creating conditions for coexistence of amphibians and the chytrid fungus.

Voyles J, Woodhams DC, Saenz V, Byrne AQ, Perez R, Rios-Sotelo G, Ryan MJ, Bletz MC, Sobell FA, McLetchie S, Reinert L, Rosenblum EB, Rollins-Smith LA, Ibáñez R, Ray JM, Griffith EJ, Ross H, Richards-Zawacki CL. (2018) Shifts in disease dynamics in a tropical amphibian assemblage are not due to pathogen attenuation. Science 359(6383):1517-1519.


Link to article | Link to New York Times article | Link to Science News | Link to The Atlantic article

New article, Fight Fungi with Fungi: Antifungal Properties of the Amphibian Mycobiome, published in Frontiers in Microbiology

Network analysis depicting the connectivity among sample for Bd inhibitory bacterial (A) and Bd-inhibitory/facilitating fungal (B) taxa.

In this new article published in Frontiers in Microbiology, the Woodhams Lab in collaboration with the New England Aquarium suggests that host associated fungi may work better than bacteria for amphibian skin probiotics against chytridiomycosis.

Patrick J. Kearns, Sarah Fischer, Saioa Fernández-Beaskoetxea, Caitlin R. Gabor, Jaime Bosch, Jennifer L. Bowen, Michael F. Tlusty, and Douglas C. Woodhams. Fight Fungi with Fungi: Antifungal Properties of the Amphibian Mycobiome. (2017) Frontiers in Microbiology.

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NIH-Bridges to Baccalaureate student George Khnaizir presents summer research

NIH-Bridges to Baccalaureate student George Khnaizir presents summer research

George Khnaizir presents his summer research, conducted at the Woodhams Lab under the mentorship of Dr. Andreas Hertz, at this year’s Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students in Pheonix, AZ.  The title of his research is Amphibian Mucosal Defenses Against an Emerging Fungal Disease: Testing for selection in recovering populations in upland Panama.

NPR’s Living On Earth interviews Dr. Woodhams: Good Bacteria Could Save Amphibians

Cow Knob salamander, Plethodon punctatus, from George Washington National Forest, VA
Photo: Matt Becker.

Fighting the fungal diseases that have killed millions of frogs and other amphibians is a top priority, and new research suggests natural soil bacteria might provide protection. UMass Boston biology professor Doug Woodhams tells Living on Earth’s Helen Palmer how they work, and might help other species threatened by these illnesses.

Listen to the interview/Read the transcript

Trends in Microbiology publishes new study: Managing Amphibian Disease with Skin Microbiota

Trends in MicroBiology 1

Cow Knob salamander, Plethodon punctatus, from George Washington National Forest, VA
Cover photo: Doug Woodhams.

In a section on Science and Society, Woodhams and colleagues describe state-of-the-art approaches for amphibian disease management.  These include probiotic bacteria that persist from aquatic tadpole to terrestrial adult frog stages, and bacteria that produce volatile compounds including hydrogen cyanide that can kill fungus from a distance and could be applied to soils. These management tools were announced on the heels of a moratorium on salamander trade to help prevent invasion by a new salamander chytrid.  This is the 50th peer-reviewed publication from new assistant professor Doug Woodhams, and was supported by the UMass Boston Endowed Faculty Career Development Award.

Woodhams DC, Bletz M, Kueneman J, McKenzie V. (2016) Managing Amphibian Disease with Skin Microbiota. Trends in Microbiology, 24:161-164.


Amanda Peters to join Woodhams lab as IGERT fellow


Amanda Peters, new IGERT fellow at the Woodhams lab.

Amanda Peters was selected as a Coasts and Communities IGERT fellow and joins the Woodhams lab in August 2016.  Amanda is graduating from Washington College in Maryland with a double major in Biology and Environmental Science. She will be involved on the project entitled, “Linking Microbiota and Ecotoxicology with Mosquito-Borne Disease Risk” supported by a seed grant from the Office of Research, Strategic Initiatives and Graduate Studies.

Read more about Amanda Peters in the Woodhams Lab People page.

New Student Awards and Conferences in the Woodhams Lab

Brandon LaBumbard teaches qPCR at the Woodhams lab.

Brandon LaBumbard teaches qPCR at the Woodhams lab.

Kelly Barnhart was awarded $1000 from the Chicago Herpetological Society for her research on “Priming Immune Function of Critically Endangered Panamanian Golden Frogs Prior to Reintroduction.”

Brandon LaBumbard will be attending the JMIH: Joint Meeting of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists from July 6-10 in New Orleans and presenting on “Inhibition of pathogenic fungi using volatile organic compounds produced by bacteria” with funding from the UMass Boston Lipke travel award.

Lindsey Raymond was accepted into the Scientific Communication for Undergraduates course sponsored by the NIH’s National Research Mentoring Network and will present her research on May 5.

Trong Nguyen and Kate Seigars completed a semester project supported by the McCone and Alumni research fund on “Testing viability assays of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis.”

Dr. Andreas Hertz returned from his research trip to Panama studying “Amphibian Mucosal Defenses against an Emerging Fungal Disease: testing for Selection in Recovering populations,” supported by the UMass Boston Office of Global Programs.

EcoHealth publishes new study: Antimicrobial peptide activity against trematode parasites


Trematode life cycle.
Image: CU Boulder MBW: Modelling the Dynamics of a Complex Life-Cycle Parasite

In this new article in EcoHealth, Dr. Woodhams with collaborators at University of Colorado Boulder suggests that antimicrobial peptide defenses do not play a significant role in defending larval amphibians against trematode cercariae, but that they could be one mechanism helping to prevent infection of post-metamorphic amphibians, particularly for highly aquatic species.

Calhoun DM, Woodhams DC, Howard C, LaFonte BE, Gregory JR, Johnson PT. Role of Antimicrobial Peptides in Amphibian Defense Against Trematode Infection. (2016) EcoHealth.

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Douglas C. Woodhams, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
UMass Boston | Department of Biology
100 Morrissey Blvd.
Boston, Massachusetts 02125
Phone: 617-287-6679