Archive for the News Category

Widespread amphibian skin bacteria chemically inhibit pathogens

Prodigiosin and Violacein are two bacterially produced chemicals that inhibit fungal amphibian pathogens

In a new study, Woodhams and colleagues show that compounds such as prodigiosin and violacein produced by amphibian skin bacteria can inhibit fungal pathogens. Volatile organic compounds were also inhibitory.  The team showed that these bacteria are widespread and potentially useful probiotics.

Woodhams DC, LaBumbard BC, Barnhart KL, Becker MH, Bletz MC, Escobar LA, Flechas SV, Forman ME, Iannetta AA, Joyce MD, Rabemananjara F, Gratwicke B, Vences M, Minbiole KPC. (2017) Prodigiosin, violacein, and volatile organic compounds produced by widespread cutaneous bacteria of amphibians can inhibit two Batrachochytrium fungal pathogens. Microbial Ecology,

Earth Microbiome Project

Dr. Woodhams contributes to the Earth Microbiome Consortium of over 500 scientists, and a new paper in Nature led by Luke Thompson, “A communal catalogue reveals Earth’s multiscale microbial diversity.” This will become a key database, and a framework to place future microbiome studies in a global context.

Popular press stories can be found here:, or download the paper:

Publication on Herd Immunity in Frontiers in Microbiology

Herd immunity may protect some amphibians from disease on Madagascar.

A study led by Molly Bletz estimates herd immunity against amphibian chytridiomycosis in Madagascar.

Bletz MC, Myers J, Woodhams DC, Rabemananjara FCE, Rakotonirina A, Weldon C, Edmonds D, Vences M, Harris RN. (2017) Estimating herd immunity to amphibian chytridiomycosis in Madagascar based on the defensive function of amphibian skin bacteria. Frontiers in Microbiology.

Sampling crayfish at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

Ph.D. student Brandon LaBumbard sampling crayfish at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

“The Non-molluscan Invertebrate Unit welcomes UMass Boston Ph.D. student Brandon LaBumbard into the lab this week. Brandon’s research focuses on effects of chytrid fungus in amphibian declines. So, why is he holding a crayfish in this photo? Crayfishes are potential vectors by which chytrid is spread. Brandon is working with the NMI Collection’s extensive virile crayfish (Faxonius virilis) holdings, sampling for chytrid presence on, and in, these organisms. The virile crayfish is of particular interest as it has been widely introduced into regions of North America where chytrid has been particularly problematic.” By Bronwyn Williams on the Invertebrates, North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences Facebook page from September 6, 2017

Molly Bletz joins the lab with a Smith Conservation Fellowship

Smith Conservation Fellow, Dr. Molly Bletz

Molly Bletz (Ph.D., Technical University of Braunschwig, Germany) was awarded a prestigious Smith Conservation Fellowship to join the Woodhams lab and work on the project: Proactive conservation: curbing the threat of an emerging salamander pathogen by assessing disease risk and developing effective mitigation strategies.


REU student Alma Basco presents summer research

Alma Basco (REU student from University of Puerto Rico) catches her first newt.

National Science Foundation supported Research Experience for Undergraduates student Alma Basco (University of Puerto Rico), presented her summer research on “Developing a probiotic for proactive conservation of Eastern newts,” Alma Basco, Brandon LaBumbard, Douglas C. Woodhams.

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.

Kelly Barnhart published in Microbial Ecology

Localization of symbiotic bacteria (arrows) in the mucus layer of adult boreal toad skin by fluorescent in situ hybridization. Blue indicates host nuclei stained with DAPI, and pink indicates bacterial cells stained with the oligoprobe EUB338. Image from coauthor, Dr. Irene Salinas.

Master’s student Kelly Barnhart published her first paper titled, “Identification of Bufadienolides from the Boreal Toad, Anaxyrus boreas, Active Against a Fungal Pathogen” in Microbial Ecology. In addition to showing that toad toxins could inhibit fungal growth, other microbiota were detected in the skin mucus and granular glands that were facilitated by the compounds. Presented on Aug. 8, 2017 at the Northeast Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Meeting at Mountain Lake Biological Station, Virginia.


Now breeding Asian tiger mosquitoes, Aedes albopictus, in the biosecure UMass Boston insectary

Biosecure insectary set up at UMass Boston.

Ph.D. students Amanda Tokash-Peters and Daniel Dacey (UMass Lowell) have successfully collected invasive mosquitoes, and bred them in the laboratory in preparation for experiments to determine the influence of aquatic conditions on microbiomes and immune development.  What conditions influence the ability of mosquitoes to resist or transmit viruses?

Bhumi Patel presents her Honors in Biology research

Bhumi Patel presents her Honors in Biology research.

Bhumi Patel graduated with Honors, and presented her research project: Testing the Amphibian Mucosome for Resistance to an Emerging Pathogen. Bhumi Patel, Amanda Peters, Douglas C. Woodhams.


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