Archive for the News Category

UMass Boston Biologist Discovers Frogs Impacted by Deadly Disease in Panama Are Making a Comeback

Sachatamia albomaculata, taken in January 2018 by Doug Woodhams

Read about the study in the New York Times featured by Carl Zimmer, A Few Species of Frogs That Vanished May Be on the Rebound.

Also on ScienceNews: Some frogs may be bouncing back after killer chytrid fungus (featured by Susan Milius), UMass Boston News, and Commentary in Science by Prof. Jim Collins, Arizona State University, “Change is Key to Frog Survival”.

Master’s thesis defended by Kelly Barnhart

Pictured: Kelly Barnhart celebrating with a salamander cake and hat.

Kelly Barnhart successfully defends her Master’s thesis- “From Symbionts to Pathogens: Interactions Within the Amphibian Skin Mucosome”.

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

Leopard Frogs sampled in Panama with Andreas Hertz

Pictured: Dr. Andreas Hertz with Panama leopard frog

Dr. Hertz and Woodhams captured Panama leopard frogs, Rana pipiens species E, near Santa Fe, Panama.  The undescribed species is similar to  Northern leopard frogs but may produce unique skin peptide secretions with medicinal properties.

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.

Read this publication


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.



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