Archive for the News Category

Former Ph.D. student Leyla Davis (University of Zurich) publishes her research in Environmental Microbiology

Former Ph.D. student Leyla Davis (University of Zurich) and Doug Woodhams collect samples for project reported in Environmental Microbiology

We found that the response of tadpoles to microbial therapy depended on the initial microbial community structure.  Addition of Flavobacterium and Pseudomonas acted to increase survival of infected tadpoles.

Davis LR, Bigler L, Woodhams DC. (2017) Developmental trajectories of amphibian microbiota: response to bacterial therapy depends on initial community structure. Environmental Microbiology, 19(4):1502-1517.

Brandon LaBumbard receives a Department of Biology Award for Outstanding Teaching

Brandon LaBumbard honored for Outstanding Teaching.

Brandon LaBumbard received a Department of Biology Award for Outstanding Teaching. In addition to courses in Introductory Biology, and a January term Research Immersion course, Brandon is always teaching students in the lab.

Jonah Piovia-Scott and colleagues publish on bacteria diversity-function relationship in Microbial Ecology

Experimental biofilms with diverse bacterial communities.

Diversity-function relationships are a frontier of ecology research.  Here, we look at the function of bacterial communities to suppress chytrid fungus, and they do this better when at higher diversity.

Piovia-Scott J, Rejmanek D, Woodhams DC, Worth SJ, Kenny H, McKenzie V, Lawler SP, Foley JE. (2017) Greater species richness of bacterial skin symbionts better suppresses the amphibian fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis. Microbial Ecology, 74(1):217-226.

Research Immersion Course

NIH-IMSD research immersion course taught by Ph.D. student Brandon LaBumbard

Ph.D. student Brandon LaBumbard teaches a January term research immersion course for the National Institute of Health funded Initiative for Maximizing Student Development.

Lindsey Raymond presents Honors research

Lindsey Raymond presents her Honors in Biology research project.

Lindsey Raymond presented her Honors in Biology research at the Scientific Communication for Undergraduates poster session. The project: Growth Inhibition of Pathogenic Fungi Caused by Bacterial Volatile Organic Compounds. Lindsey Raymond, Brandon LaBumbard, and Douglas C. Woodhams.

NPR’s Living On Earth interviews Dr. Woodhams: Good Bacteria Could Save Amphibians

Cow Knob salamander, Plethodon punctatus, from George Washington National Forest, VA
Photo: Matt Becker.

Fighting the fungal diseases that have killed millions of frogs and other amphibians is a top priority, and new research suggests natural soil bacteria might provide protection. UMass Boston biology professor Doug Woodhams tells Living on Earth’s Helen Palmer how they work, and might help other species threatened by these illnesses.

Listen to the interview/Read the transcript

Trends in Microbiology publishes new study: Managing Amphibian Disease with Skin Microbiota

Trends in MicroBiology 1

Cow Knob salamander, Plethodon punctatus, from George Washington National Forest, VA
Cover photo: Doug Woodhams.

In a section on Science and Society, Woodhams and colleagues describe state-of-the-art approaches for amphibian disease management.  These include probiotic bacteria that persist from aquatic tadpole to terrestrial adult frog stages, and bacteria that produce volatile compounds including hydrogen cyanide that can kill fungus from a distance and could be applied to soils. These management tools were announced on the heels of a moratorium on salamander trade to help prevent invasion by a new salamander chytrid.  This is the 50th peer-reviewed publication from new assistant professor Doug Woodhams, and was supported by the UMass Boston Endowed Faculty Career Development Award.

Woodhams DC, Bletz M, Kueneman J, McKenzie V. (2016) Managing Amphibian Disease with Skin Microbiota. Trends in Microbiology, 24:161-164.


Amanda Peters to join Woodhams lab as IGERT fellow


Amanda Peters, new IGERT fellow at the Woodhams lab.

Amanda Peters was selected as a Coasts and Communities IGERT fellow and joins the Woodhams lab in August 2016.  Amanda is graduating from Washington College in Maryland with a double major in Biology and Environmental Science. She will be involved on the project entitled, “Linking Microbiota and Ecotoxicology with Mosquito-Borne Disease Risk” supported by a seed grant from the Office of Research, Strategic Initiatives and Graduate Studies.

Read more about Amanda Peters in the Woodhams Lab People page.

New Student Awards and Conferences in the Woodhams Lab

Brandon LaBumbard teaches qPCR at the Woodhams lab.

Brandon LaBumbard teaches qPCR at the Woodhams lab.

Kelly Barnhart was awarded $1000 from the Chicago Herpetological Society for her research on “Priming Immune Function of Critically Endangered Panamanian Golden Frogs Prior to Reintroduction.”

Brandon LaBumbard will be attending the JMIH: Joint Meeting of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists from July 6-10 in New Orleans and presenting on “Inhibition of pathogenic fungi using volatile organic compounds produced by bacteria” with funding from the UMass Boston Lipke travel award.

Lindsey Raymond was accepted into the Scientific Communication for Undergraduates course sponsored by the NIH’s National Research Mentoring Network and will present her research on May 5.

Trong Nguyen and Kate Seigars completed a semester project supported by the McCone and Alumni research fund on “Testing viability assays of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis.”

Dr. Andreas Hertz returned from his research trip to Panama studying “Amphibian Mucosal Defenses against an Emerging Fungal Disease: testing for Selection in Recovering populations,” supported by the UMass Boston Office of Global Programs.

EcoHealth publishes new study: Antimicrobial peptide activity against trematode parasites


Trematode life cycle.
Image: CU Boulder MBW: Modelling the Dynamics of a Complex Life-Cycle Parasite

In this new article in EcoHealth, Dr. Woodhams with collaborators at University of Colorado Boulder suggests that antimicrobial peptide defenses do not play a significant role in defending larval amphibians against trematode cercariae, but that they could be one mechanism helping to prevent infection of post-metamorphic amphibians, particularly for highly aquatic species.

Calhoun DM, Woodhams DC, Howard C, LaFonte BE, Gregory JR, Johnson PT. Role of Antimicrobial Peptides in Amphibian Defense Against Trematode Infection. (2016) EcoHealth.

Read this publication


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