Archive for the News Category

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.

Amanda Tokash-Peters receives best poster award

Amanda Tokash-Peters awarded for best poster.

Amanda Tokash-Peters received 1st place for her poster presentation at the Environmental Research Colloquium and Intercampus Marine Science Symposium. The topic of her poster:

Marbled Salamander Mortality in Ephemeral Wetlands on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Amanda Peters and Robin Van Meter.

Grant et al. Proactive Management paper in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment

Sampling Eastern newts in Massachusetts with Evan Grant and USGS team.

Evan Grant and colleagues advocate using decision analysis to create and evaluate trade-offs between proactive (pre-emergence) and reactive (post-emergence) management options for the newly discovered salamander pathogen Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans (Bsal). The Woodhams lab continues to collaborate with Grant at the US Geological Survey on disease threats to New England amphibians.

Grant EHC, Muths E, Katz RA, Canessa S, Adams MJ, Ballard JR, Berger L, Briggs CJ, Coleman JTH, Gray MT, Harris MC, Harris RN, Hossack B, Huyvaert KP, Kolby J, Lips KR, Lovich RE, McCallum HI, Mendelson JR, Nanjappa P, Olson DH, Powers JG, Richgels KLD, Russell RE, Schmidt BR, Spitzen‐van der Sluijs A, Watry MK, Woodhams DC, White CL. (2017) Using decision analysis to support proactive management of emerging infectious wildlife diseases. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 15(4):214-221.

Publication on Mosquito Microbiomes in Frontiers in Microbiology

Wolbachia bacteria decrease with temperature followed by an increase in West Nile virus prevalence in mosquitoes, Culex pipiens.

In a study co-led by Douglas Woodhams and Eva Novakova, mosquito microbiomes were examined for seasonal patterns and trends with West Nile virus prevalence.  A fascinating outcome was a correlation between increased temperature, a reduction of protective Wolbachia bacteria, and subsequent increase in West Nile virus.  The study was highlighted in a WBUR radio interview and presented at the Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Diseases conference at UC Santa Barbara.

Novakova E, Woodhams DC, Rodríguez-Ruano SM, Brucker RM, Leff JW, Maharaj A, Amir A, Knight R, Scott J. (2017) Mosquito microbiome dynamics, a background for prevalence and seasonality of West Nile virus. Frontiers in Microbiology, 8:526.

Rebollar and colleagues publish on ITS DNA copy number variation and pathogen load diagnostics in Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

Prevalence of B. dendrobatidis infection depends on copy number threshold.

Pathogens are often detected using particular genes, but these genes can differ in copy number even between pathogen isolates.  We discuss how this may influence conclusions on pathogen loads and infection prevalence, and offer solutions.

Rebollar EA, Woodhams DC, LaBumbard B, Kielgast J, Harris RN. (2017)

Prevalence and pathogen load estimates for the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis are impacted by ITS DNA copy number variation. Diseases of Aquatic Organisms, 123(3):213-226.


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