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 

Woodhams’ graduate seminar students publish in Genome Biology on Host-Associated Microbiomes

Path model of internal microbiomes depicting direct and indirect effects of immune complexity in the context of the best biotic and abiotic predictors of microbial phylogenetic diversity.

Genome Biology publishes “Host-associated microbiomes are predicted by immune system complexity and climate”, with more than a dozen students from Dr. Woodhams’ two graduate seminar courses on microbiomes as co-authors. The paper includes combined data from the Earth Microbiome Project as well as 50 additional studies to evaluate global-scale patterns of bacterial diversity and function across 654 host species and 15,000 samples.

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Woodhams, D.C., Bletz, M.C., Becker, C.G., Bender, A.B.*, Buitrago-Rosas, D.*, Diebboll, H.*, Huynh, R.*, Kearns, P.J., Kueneman, J., Kurosawa, E.*, LaBumbard, B.C.*, Lyons, C.*, McNally, K.*, Schliep, K., Shankar, N.*, Tokash-Peters, A.G.*, Vences, M., Whetstone, R.* Host-associated microbiomes are predicted by immune system complexity and climate. Genome Biol 21, 23 (2020).

Bolded are members of the Woodhams Lab. * Denotes graduate student co-author.


Journal of Animal Ecology Publishes Study on Seasonality of Mucosal Skin Defenses

Both skin bacteria and host peptide patterns transitioned through the seasons. The bacterial microbiome (point connected to gray line) is strongly correlated with peptide profile (point connected to black line) in this Procrustes plot.

The Journal of Animal Ecology publishes “Preparatory immunity: Seasonality of mucosal skin defenses and Batrachochytrium infections in Southern leopard frogs” with Ph.D. candidate Brandon LaBumbard and Dr. Woodhams. The paper explores the effects of seasonality on host immune and microbial defenses against Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis infections. 

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Le Sage, E.H., LaBumbard, B.C., Reinert, L.K., Miller, B.T., Richards-Zawacki, C.L., Woodhams, D.C., Rollins-Smith, L.A. Preparatory immunity: Seasonality of mucosal skin defenses and Batrachochytrium infections in Southern leopard frogs. J Anim Ecol. 2020 Nov 12. doi: 10.1111/1365-2656.13386. PMID: 33179786.



Undergraduate Sydney Horan publishes first-authored study

Notophthalmus viridescens, the Eastern Newt.

Herpetological Review publishes “Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis is Widespread and Associated with Water Temperature in the Eastern United States”, with Woodhams Lab undergraduate Sydney Horan and postdoc Molly Bletz. The study found that in a survey of Eastern Newts down the east coast of the United States, Bd was highly prevalent and correlated with water temperature. Bsal was also found to be absent in the survey.

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Horan, S., McDonald, C., Bletz, M. C. 2020. Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis is Widespread and Associated with Water Temperature in the Eastern United States. Herpetological Review 51(3), p. 484-488.

Welcoming Joe Madison!

Dr. Joe Madison (left) and Dr. Woodhams (right).

Dr. Joe Madison was awarded the prestigious NSF Postdoctoral Research Fellowship to join the Woodhams Lab, researching host-microbiome ecology. Joe’s project will test the hypothesis that microbial gut communities significantly vary in diversity and function both within and between amphibian assemblages over spatiotemporal gradients. This hypothesis will be tested by utilizing museum specimens and their associated land-use and land-cover (LULC) data from the Midwest and Northeast United States from the 1880s to present. Recently developed techniques for degraded DNA isolation, shotgun metagenomic sequencing, and bioinformatic machine-learning software will also be leveraged in the completion of this work.

Dr. Amanda Tokash-Peters Successfully Defends Ph.D. Thesis

Dr. Amanda Tokash-Peters.

Dr. Amanda Tokash-Peters has successfully defended her Ph.D. Thesis, “Mosquito Microbiomes: Understanding the Interface Between Microbiome, Environment, and Human Pathogens”. 

She is now an assistant professor at Centenary University. The Woodhams Lab wishes Amanda all the best in her journey!

Follow Amanda’s twitter for updates on her adventures- @ATPScienceGirl

Case Studies in the Environment Publishes New Article on Mosquito Control Strategies

Mosquito crossing!

In a new case study article, Amanda Tokash-Peters examines control and mitigation strategies based heavily on an ecological understanding of mosquitoes to prevent spread of illness. Several scenarios are provided exploring the balance between public and environmental health to elucidate the wide array of factors involved in global mosquito control efforts.

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Tokash-Peters, A. G., Tokash, I. W., Campos, A. J., Woodhams, D. C. 2019. Developing Effective Mosquito Control Strategies by Utilizing Vector Mosquito Life Histories and Ecology. Case Studies in the Environment 3 (1): 1–12. doi:

Animal Conservation Publishes Woodhams Lab Findings on Bsal in Spotted Salamanders

Pictured: Ambystoma maculatum, the spotted salamander.

In the new Animal Conservation paper “Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans elicits acute stress response in spotted salamanders but not infection or mortality”, Barnhart et al. examines the effects of Bsal infection in spotted salamanders. Upon Bsal exposure, spotted salamanders show no indication of infection- even across life stages and high and repeated doses of Bsal. However, a stress response involving an acute increase in corticosterone is observed upon exposure.

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Barnhart, K., Bletz, M.C., LaBumbard, B., Tokash‐Peters, A., Gabor, C.R. and Woodhams, D.C. (2020), Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans elicits acute stress response in spotted salamanders but not infection or mortality. Anim Conserv. doi:10.1111/acv.12565

New Paper Published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B on Arthropod-Bacteria Interactions and Bd

Pictured: Path analysis showing a cascade of effects from arthropods to density of Bd zoospores in the environment to Bd infection burden in tadpoles to tadpole body mass.

In a new study, Dr. Woodhams and colleagues explored the impact of arthropod-bacterial interactions, and how this influences the host microbiome and pathogen load in Bd infected tadpoles. It is suggested that healthy ecosystem dynamics and host microbiome function are intrinsically linked- loss of arthropods may have downstream effects on host fitness and microbial pathogen defenses.

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Greenspan, S. E., Lyra, M. L., Migliorini, G. H., Kersch-Becker, M. F., Bletz, M. C., Lisboa, C. S., Pontes, M. R., Ribeiro, L. P., Neely, W. J., Rezende, F., Romero, G. Q., Woodhams, D. C., Haddad, C. F. B., Toledo, L. F. and Becker, C. G. 2019. Arthropod–bacteria interactions influence assembly of aquatic host microbiome and pathogen defense. Proc. R. Soc. B. 286(1905), p. 28620190924.

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.

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