August 25, 2021

Greetings from the Rollins-Smith Lab!

It’s hot and humid around here (also known as August in TN) and time for a few updates!

We’re beginning the fall semester here at Vanderbilt University which is always an exciting time for our lab.  We have the opportunity to not only welcome new students into the lab, but we also see the return of former students.  We have 2 undergraduate women who will be joining our crew to assist with animal care and other lab chores: Emmy Schuler and Joyce Sanks.  Welcome, Ladies!  We are looking forward to working with you and thank you in advance for your help.  Secondly, Kaitlyn Linney has worked in our lab for several years, and she has returned this fall to continue her research.  In the past, she has examined different levels of virulence among various isolates of Bd.  Furthermore, she has also looked at temperature dependent levels of virulence in Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans (Bsal).  This semester she will be obtaining cell wall preparations from Bd and possibly Bsal since we believe many virulence factors are located on the cell wall of these fungi.  She will test those cell wall fractions for inhibition of either a T lymphocyte cell line or frog splenocytes.  Glad you have you back, Kaitlyn!

As you all know, we have several projects in the works (see Projects page) and hope to make great progress on them this fall.  We are wrapping up our DOD funded project “Effects of Climate on Host/Pathogen Interactions in Chytridiomycosis” that we’ve been working on for the last five years.  This project has involved a great deal of work, so it’s rather bittersweet to see it come to an end.  Some publications have already come out of this research, and we are working on additional manuscripts at this time.  I will keep you posted on their progress. 

We are working with Ana Longo, PhD, and Patricia Burrowes, PhD, on the project “Defining the role of skin microbiomes in defense against chytridiomycosis in frogs with seasonal infections.”  Dr. Burrowes and her colleagues have sent us lots of Coqui frog skin secretions obtained from the field in Puerto Rico.  We are currently purifying the skin antimicrobial peptides (amps) from those secretions and preparing to test their ability to inhibit Bd growth.  We ran across a few technical issues working with these samples over the summer, but we think we’ve ironed out the wrinkles and are anxious to see if there are seasonal effects on the ability of amps to inhibit Bd.

Mitch Le Sage, MS, continues to work on the “Transmission Pathways and Immunological Factors Driving Invasion Potential of Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans project and making great progress including co-authoring some recent publications/presentations of the work.  He is currently setting up an infection experiment with a newt-derived isolate of Bd generously provided to us by Dr. Ana Longo. 

I believe that’s the latest to report at this time.  We have at least one more project submitted for funding, so we’re keeping our fingers crossed to hear good news in the coming months.

In the meantime…take care, get vaccinated, and wear a mask.