Archive for the News Category

Linking the microbiome and stress hormones in Brazilian treefrogs

In this study, we used radiotelemetry and translocations to track microbiome composition and function, pathogen infection, and host stress over time across natural movement paths for the forest-associated treefrog, Boana faber. We found strong integration of host stress response and anti-pathogen potential of the microbiome. Additionally, we observed a capacity for resilience (resistance to structural change and functional loss) in the amphibian skin microbiome, with maintenance of putative pathogen-inhibitory function despite major temporal shifts in microbiome composition.

Neely WJ, Martins RA, Mendonça da Silva CM, Ferreira da Silva T, Fleck LE, Whetstone RD, Woodhams DC, Cook WH, Prist PR, Valiati VH, Greenspan SE, Tozetti AM, Earley RL, Becker CG. 2023. Linking microbiome and stress hormone responses in wild tropical treefrogs across continuous and fragmented forests. Communications Biology, 6(1):1261. doi: 10.1038/s42003-023-05600-9.

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Variable Harlequin Frog resealse trial in Panama

Variable harlequin frog Atelopus varius fitted with a 0.3 g radio transmitter.

Klocke et al. conducted a release trial of captive-bred variable harlequin frogs, monitoring 30 of the 458 released frogs using radio transmitters. They found that the Critically Endangered frogs disperse rapidly, are difficult to recapture & don’t readily regain skin toxicity.
Klocke B, Garcés O, Lassiter E, Guerrel J, Hertz A, Illueca E, Klaphake E, Linhoff L, Minbiole K, Ross H, Tasca JA, Woodhams DC, Gratwicke B, Ibañez R. Release trial of captive-bred variable harlequin frogs Atelopus varius shows that frogs disperse rapidly, are difficult to recapture and do not readily regain skin toxicity. Oryx. Published online 2023:1-13. doi:10.1017/S0030605323001254
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Winner of Cerillo’s 2023 Co-Culture Champion Contest

I am thrilled to share that our entry has been chosen as one of the nine winners of Cerillo’s 2023 Co-Culture Champion Contest. This recognition is incredibly meaningful, especially considering there was a diverse array of entries from around the globe. We’re looking forward to using Cerillo’s Co-Culture Duet System to simulate natural amphibian skin conditions to potentially revolutionize therapies for threatened amphibians and their conservation. You can learn more about our winning entry here:

Woodhams and Voyles labs awarded a new NIH grant

Immune equilibrium modeled as balance beams after Eberl (2016).

Microbiota including pathogens of the frog Xenopus laevis may bias immune responses at early stages of development such that the microbiome and infection susceptibility will be altered in later life.

In this 3 year NIH-funded project we will utilize germ-free conditions for raising tadpoles and monitoring immune responses and microbiota on the skin and mucus.

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Woodhams lab reviews the Amphibian Mucosome in Theme Issue on Amphibian Immunity


The microbiome interacts with multiple aspects of the amphibian skin landscape.

We review amphibian skin mucus components and describe the adaptive microbiome as a novel process of disease resilience where competitive microbial interactions couple with host immune responses to select for functions beneficial to the host.

Woodhams DC, McCartney J, Walke JB, Whetstone R. 2023. The Adaptive Microbiome Hypothesis and Immune Interactions in Amphibian Mucus. Developmental and Comparative Immunology, 145:104690.

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Fungi on bats

Dr. Pat Kearns leads analysis of bat mycobiomes.

Kearns PJ, Winter AS, Woodhams DC, Northup DE. 2023. The mycobiome of bats in the American southwest is structured by geography, bat species, and behavior. Microbial Ecology, 86(3):1565-1574.


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Dr. Joe Madison compares microbes in museum and field samples

Illustration by Hill published Shaw (1802) General Zoology or Systematic Natural History, volume Amphibia

Madison JD, LaBumbard B, Woodhams DC. Shotgun metagenomics captures more microbial diversity than targeted 16S rRNA gene sequencing for field specimens and preserved museum specimens. PLoS One, 18(9): e0291540.

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Predicted salamander losses could exceed 80 species in the United States and 140 species in North America.

We discovered that Bsal caused infection in 74% and mortality in 35% of species tested. Both salamanders and frogs became infected and developed Bsal chytridiomycosis.

Gray MJ, Carter ED, Cusaac JPD, Peterson AC, Whetstone RD*, Hertz A, Bletz MC , Woodhams DC, Piovia-Scott J, Romansic J, Olea GP, Hardman R , McCusker CD, Miller DL. 2023. Broad host susceptibility of North American amphibian species to Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans suggests high invasion potential. Nature Communications, 14(1):3270.

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Theme issue: Amphibian immunity: stress, disease and ecoimmunology

Bd metabolites induce protective skin bacterial response in tadpoles.

Woodhams lab contributes to three articles in theme issue of Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B.

Pereira KE, Bletz MC, McCartney JA, Woodhams DC, Woodley SK. 2023. Effects of corticosterone on immunity and the skin microbiome of Eastern Newts (Notophthalmus viridescens). Philosophical Transactions B. 378(1882):20220120.
doi: 10.1098/rstb.2022.0120.

Miller A, Gass J, Chul Jo M, Bishop L, Petereit J, Woodhams DC, Voyles J. 2023. Gnotobiotic larvae as a tool to investigate influence of the microbiome on the development of the amphibian immune system. Philosophical Transactions B. 378(1882): 20220125.
doi: 10.1098/rstb.2022.0125

Siomoko SA, Greenspan SE, Barnett KM, Neely WJ, Chtarbanova S, Woodhams DC, McMahon TA, Becker CG. 2023. Selection of an anti-pathogen skin microbiome following prophylaxis treatment in an amphibian model system. Philosophical Transactions B. 378(1882):20220126. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2022.0126

Victor Quadros wins award for poster at at New England Science Symposium at Harvard Medical School

An update to this study, “Detecting Corticosterone utilizing Epidermal Mucus Swabs in Notophthalmus viridescens viridescens” by Victor Quadros, Brady Inman, Michael Romero, and Douglas C. Woodhams will be presented at the Amphibian Disease Meeting in Nashville on November 11, 2023.


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