The Murdoch ancient DNA lab works also has a non-for-profit wildlife DNA forensic service - click on this link to the Australian Wildlife forensics services website.
Dr Mike Bunce (aDNA lab head)
Dr Michael Bunce, ARC future Fellow
Ancient DNA Laboratory
School of Biological Sciences and Biotechnology
Murdoch University, 90 South Street
Perth, Western Australia, 6150 Australia
Em: M.Bunce @ murdoch.edu.au (remove spaces)
Ph: +61 (08) 93607649
My research interests revolve around using ancient DNA to study evolutionary processes and using ancient DNA profiles to investigate past biodiversity. I have worked on a diverse variety of projects with the common theme of extracting and amplifying degraded DNA, these include studies of New Zealand’s extinct birds and obtaining DNA profiles from ice/sediment cores. The research in this lab are focused around using ancient DNA as a tool to profile past biodiversity and extinction events. Conservation and restoration of biodiversity is best achieved if we understand the past composition and function of the ecosystems we are trying to restore.
Dr James Haile
Dr James Haile
ARC DECRA Fellow
Ancient DNA Research Laboratory
School of Biological Sciences and Biotechnology
Em: J.Haile @ murdoch.edu.au (remove spaces)
Nicole White (aDNA lab and AWFS)
Development of molecular tools for use in wildlife forensics.
PhD thesis (submitted)
Conservation, Management and Protection of Black Cockatoos in South-west Australia using DNA profiling technology.
The black cockatoo is an Australian faunal icon under increasing pressure from habitat destruction and poaching. The illegal trade in wildlife is a significant factor in conservation with rare Black Cockatoo species selling for up to AUD$30,000 on the black market. A number of black cockatoo species such as theCalyptorhyncus lathami (Kangaroo Island Glossy Black Cockatoo), Calyptorhyncus banksia naso (Forest Red Tail Black Cockatoo), Calyptorhyncus latirostris (Short Billed White Tail Black Cockatoo) and Calyptorhyncus baudenii (Long billed White Tail Black Cockatoo) are considered Endangered or Threatened. This study will undertake to develop microsatellite DNA markers for Black cockatoos utilising well-established methodology. The microsatellite DNA markers identified will be used to design a DNA profiling tool specifically for Black cockatoos. This DNA profiling tool will useful in combating the poaching of Black cockatoos from the wild. The Black cockatoos traded by individuals posing as breeders will be DNA profiled and the profiles will establish the relatedness of the birds and therefore the validity of the individuals claim that the birds were bred in captivity.
Prof Tom Gilbert - Adjunct Professor 2012-2015
Professor M Thomas P Gilbert
Natural History Museum of Denmark
Øster Voldgade 5-7
1350 København K
Phone: +45 353-21237
Marcus Thomas Pius Gilbert (also known as Tom Gilbert, and publishing as MTP Gilbert) is an evolutionary biologist. He received a BA at Oriel College, Oxford University, and a D.Phil (Doctor of Philosophy) in the Zoology Dept and at New College under Alan Cooper. Subsequently, he was a post-doctoral fellow at the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, at the University of Arizona. In 2005, he became an Assistant Professor at the University of Copenhagen, where he is currently Professor of Palaeogenomics at the University of Copenhagen's Natural History Museum of Denmark, and a member of the Centre for Geogenetics at Copenhagen University. He is also Adjunct Professor of Murdoch University (Perth, Australia), and an Associate Editor of the Journals, Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences, and PLoS ONE.
Charlotte Oskam (aDNA lab)
Charlotte Oskam (PhD Candidate)
DNA & Isotopic Profiles of Fossil Eggshell: A Tool to Investigate Palaeoecology, Archaeology and Extinction Processes
Avian eggshells are commonly found in fossil deposits around the globe and have been extensively utilised in geochronology and palaeodietary studies. However, without important information such as species identification, radiocarbon dates and stable isotopic profiles studies almost seem redundant. In my project, I investigated many different methodologies to optimise the extraction of ancient DNA from the matrix of fossil eggshells. So far we have successfully extracted aDNA from fossil emu eggshell dated 19 ka old. We now plan to use this technology to investigate species composition from key archaeological sites in New Zealand, in collaboration with Chris Jacomb (Otago University). Following this, using genetic profiles with 14C radiocarbon dates and stable isotopic profiles we will examine the interaction between the Polynesians and the moa (Aves: Dinornithiformes), which ultimately lead to the extinction of the moa 500 years ago.
Silvana Tridico (aDNA lab)
Silvana TRIDICO - Part-time PhD candidate,
‘Morphological and molecular approaches to characterise post-mortem modifications relating to hairs in archaeological, paleontological and forensic contexts’
Hairs due to their structural and chemical composition are stable and can withstand harsh environmental insults. Microscopical examination and classification of morphological characteristics exhibited by hairs can provide valuable information regarding condition of the hair in relation to damage, artifacts and suitability for DNA analysis; however this technique does not provide any information regarding individualisation of the hair (to a particular person or species) or to information regarding the geographic origins of the samples, or identify microbial species that might be present. The primary goal of this PhD program is to use a multidisciplinary approach to understanding the physical and molecular processes that occur to human and animal hair in the post-mortem environment.
PhD student commencing study in late 2011.
Formally in the ancient DNA lab of Dr Ian Barnes:
BSc (Hons) Biology with First Class Honours
Royal Holloway, University of London, UK
Megan Coghlan (aDNA lab)
Megan Coghlan - PhD candidate (commenced 2010)
Development of new molecular techniques for wildlife forensic applications.
Australia has strict set of guidelines that regulate the import, export and use of biologicals into the country and between state boundaries. The Illegal trade in wildlife is now the second most valuable illicit trade after the drugs trade and many of Australia‘s reptile, bird and mammal species are highly prized trophy species. Regrettably, Australia has no central agency who role it is to apply DNA technology to casework – as a result less than 1% of cases result in prosecution. The lack of prosecution is in part due to the absence of DNA based data for species identification and relatedness.
The primary goal of this research is to develop the molecular tools, techniques and processes that are required for effective border protection in Australia. Substrates will include Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), which is currently a major concern for customs. In addition, other illegal wildlife biologicals will also be assessed for DNA preservation.
Dalal Haouchar (aDNA lab)
Dalal Haouchar PhD candidate:
Thesis Research: Past Biodiversity in WA using ancient DNA
WA contains a highly unique and biodiverse biota, the south-west region is recognised as one of only 34 biodiversity hotspots in the world. This research program will construct a genetic inventory of past biodiversity in WA using ancient DNA techniques to profile DNA from fossils and skins. This historical inventory will provide several key insights biodiversity in WA and will, for the first time, provide a measure of the extent to which species have been adversely impacted by habitat modification.
Jayne Houston (aDNA lab)
ARC funded Research Assistant.
Jayne is regarded in the lab as being the best lab tech ever!
Honours student using 2nd generation DNA sequencing to study extinct New Zealand Birds.
The lab Welcomes two undergrads for ISC's in semester 2, 2011
former lab members
Dr Morten Allentoft (Post-doc) working at the Centre for GeoGenetics, copenhagen
Helen Hunt (Lab tech and Hons student) working in consulting
Carlo Pacioni (PhD Student) Post-docing at the Ag Department
Liza Parkinson (Lab Tech 2010) Now doing her PhD at Murdoch University
Amy Singara: (Honours student 2006) Now working at PathWest.
Kellie Male: (Honours student 2006) Now working at PathWest.
Emma McLay: (Honours student 2008) Now working at GTG in Melbourne.
Danielle Giustiniano: (Honours student 2008) Now a PhD candidate at UWA.
list of current and former collaborators:
The multidisciplinary nature of ancient DNA research projects necessitates extensive collaborations - below is a list of people (in no specific order) who have assisted lab members in past and current projects.
- Dr Tom Gilbert
- Prof Eske Willerslev
- Dr Joe Dortch
- Chris Jacomb
- Prof David Blair
- Dr Belinda Cannel
Dr Lars Bejder
- Dr Stuart Pearson
- Dr Alex Baynes
- Dr Gavin Prideaux
- Dr Matt Phillips
- Prof Richard Holdaway
- Dr Ric How
- Dr Sam Turvey
- Ross Barnett
- Dr Trevor Worthy
- Dr Beth Shapiro
- Dr Mike Worobey
- Dr Ian Barnes
- Dr Alexei Drummond
- Andrew Clack
- Prof Alan Cooper
- Dr Paul Scofield
Links to museums (and their curators) who have assisted in this research and provided samples can be found here.