Archive for the News Category

Dr. Woodhams’ Students Rap “Plasmodium Funk” for Extra Credit

Two of Dr. Woodhams’ students, Jonathan Benney and Nikhil Illa, got creative for an extra credit project in Dr. Woodhams’ Infectious Disease Ecology class.  Thier video/rap outlines the lifecycle of the protozoa Plasmodium, the disease agent of Malaria.

ISME publishes findings: Inhibitory bacteria reduce fungi on early life stages of endangered Colorado boreal toads

Co-occurrence analysis of bacteria and fungi found on boreal toads.

Co-occurrence analysis of bacteria and fungi found on boreal toads.

In this study, Woodhams and collaborators at the University of Colorado, Boulder led by Jordan Kueneman (now Ph.D.), used high-throughput 16S and 18S rRNA gene sequencing (Illumina MiSeq) to characterize bacteria and microeukaryotes from boreal toads. Life stage had the strongest influence on the skin microbiome. Fewer Bd-inhibitory bacteria were detected in post-metamorphic stages correlating with increased skin fungi, suggesting that bacteria have a strong role in early development and reduce skin-associated fungi.

Kueneman JG, Woodhams DC, Van Treuren W, Archer HM, Knight R, McKenzie VJ. (2016) Inhibitory bacteria reduce fungi on early life stages of endangered Colorado boreal toads (Anaxyrus boreas). The ISME Journal. 10:934-944.

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Dr. Woodhams presented with the UMass Boston Endowed Faculty Career Development Award

 Dr. Woodhams receives the Endowed Faculty Career Development Award,presented by UMass Boston Chancellor J. Keith Motley (pictured left) and UMass Boston Provost Winston E. Langley (pictured right).

Dr. Woodhams receives the Endowed Faculty Career Development Award,
presented by UMass Boston Chancellor J. Keith Motley (pictured left)
and UMass Boston Provost Winston E. Langley (pictured right).

Dr. Woodhams received the 2015 UMass Boston Endowed Faculty Career Development Award.  His proposal, Controlling Amphibian Disease with Skin Microbiota, aims to identify the volatile organic compounds produced by amphibian skin bacteria which can kill the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd).  UMass Chancellor J. Keith Motley, Provost Winston E. Langley, Dean of the College of Science and Math Dr. Andrew J. Grosovsky, and Department Head Rick Kesseli were in attendance for the award presentation at the annual UMass Retired Faculty Luncheon.

Dr. Woodhams receives grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

USFWS golden frog tadpole

Panamanian Golden Frog (Atelopus limosus) tadpole.
Photo: Brian Gratwicke.

Dr. Woodhams was awarded $25,000 from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Amphibians in Decline Program for his proposal, Priming Immune Function of Endangered Panama Golden Frogs Prior to Reintroduction.  The project targets treatments at the tadpole stage of the now extinct-in-the-wild Atelopus zeteki that will be housed in an automated flow-through aquatics system at UMass Boston. Successful disease management treatments will be applied prior to reintroduction efforts in Panama.

New paper published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology

Rainbow Trout Figure - Woodhams et al 2015

Figure showing bacterial communities at five body sites in rainbow trout.

A collaboration with researchers at University of New Mexico, this study provides a topographical map of the mucosal microbiome of the rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss). Using 16S rRNA pyrosequencing and confocal microscopy, Dr. Woodhams et. al. reveal novel bacterial diversity at each of the five body sites sampled and show that body site is a strong predictor of community composition.

Lowry L, Woodhams DC, Tacchi L, Salinas I. (2015) Topographical mapping of the rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) microbiome reveals a diverse bacterial community in the skin with antifungal properties. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 81:6915-6925.

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Study published in Biological Conservation finds skin bacteria protect some frogs from killer chytrid fungus

 Credit: Freddyfish4 (Wikimedia Commons)

Newly metamorphosed southern leopard frog
(Rana sphenocephala).
Credit: Freddyfish4 (Wikimedia Commons)

In a new study, southern leopard frogs (Lithobates sphenocephala) treated with an antibiotic cocktail which eliminated their skin microbes were more likely to be affected by the chytrid fungus, whereas frogs that maintained their normal skin microbes fared better against the fungus.

Holden WM, Hanlon SM, Woodhams DC, Chappell TM, Wells HL, Glisson SM, McKenzie VJ, Knight R, Parris MJ, Rollins-Smith LA. (2015) Skin bacteria provide early protection for newly metamorphosed southern leopard frogs (Rana sphenocephala) against the frog-killing fungus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis. Biological Conservation, 187, 91-102.

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Antifungal Isolates Database Goes Online


Antifungal Bacteria from Amphibian Skin

A collaborative effort of 26 investigators, led by Dr. Doug Woodhams, has put together a culture collection and database of bacteria associated with the skin of amphibians from North and South America, Europe, Africa, and Oceania. All isolates were tested for activity against the chytrid fungus responsible for disease emergence and amphibian die-offs around the world. This growing database will allow researchers to identify native beneficial bacteria that can be used for probiotic therapies against the fungus.

Woodhams DC and 25 co-authors (2015) Antifungal isolates database of amphibian skin-associated bacteria and function against emerging fungal pathogens. Ecology, 96:595.

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New paper accepted in Molecular Ecology

Phylogenetic Tree of Amphibian Skin Bacteria

Phylogenetic Tree of Amphibian Skin Bacteria

Becker et al. characterized over 450 bacterial isolates from the skins of Panamanian amphibian species and tested them for antifungal function. Antifungal isolates were widely distributed among all bacterial phyla, with high proportions in three genera: Stenotrophomonas, Aeromonas, and Pseudomonas.

Becker M, Walke J, Murrill L, Woodhams DC, Reinert L, Rollins-Smith L, Burzynski E, Umile T, Minbiole K, Belden L. (2015) Microbiol Phylogenetic distribution of symbiotic bacteria from Panamanian amphibians that inhibit growth of the lethal fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis. Molecular Ecology


New paper online at EcoHealth

Field Sites in Ecuador

Field Sites in Ecuador

A student from Ecuador, Jorge Bresciano, published his research on bacteria from tadpoles and adult frogs across field sites ranging from Amazonian rainforest to Andes montane rainforest. He discovered Janthinobacterium lividum among other bacteria thought to reduce susceptibility to the emerging disease chytridiomycosis.

Bresciano JC, Salvador CA, Paz-Y-Miño C, Parody-Merino AM, Bosch J, Woodhams DC. (2015) Variation in the presence of anti-Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis bacteria of amphibians across life stages and elevations in Ecuador. EcoHealth


Woodhams Lab moves to the New Integrative Science Complex at UMass Boston

Integrated Sciences Building

The new Integrated Sciences Building at UMass Boston

The Woodhams Lab now has a state-of-the-art research space in the new Integrative Science Complex at UMass Boston.  This new building provides 220,000 gross square feet of space featuring: research lab and support space for biology, chemistry, environmental sciences, physics, and psychology; undergraduate introductory biology teaching laboratories; an interdisciplinary undergraduate sandbox teaching lab, an infant cognition lab; and a new research center—the Center for Personalized Cancer Therapy.  This $182 million dollar project was funded by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the UMass Building Authority, and Mass Development.

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