Academic Staff - Professor Mike Thompson

Back to Professor Mike Thompson's profile

Student: Oliver Griffith

Oliver with a snake

Phone: + 614 32 093216
Fax: +61 2 9351 4119
Address: Room 446 A08 - Heydon-Laurence Building, University of Sydney, NSW 2006 Australia

Current Research

Pseudemoia entrecasteauxii

My PhD looks at the role of parent-offspring conflict in the evolution of a nutritive placenta. During pregnancy, the developing embryo of placental mammals relies entirely on the nutrients provided to it by its mother across the placenta. In egg laying reptiles the embryo relies not on placental nutrients but the provision of egg yolk. Whilst in lizards that give birth to live young, an embryo relies on both the yolk it is provided before development AND the nutrients it is provided across the placenta. As the placenta is a combination of both maternal and embryonic tissue, both the mother and embryo has some control over how much nutrients are provided by the mother to the embryo, hence there is room for conflict between these two parties. The embryos want as much nutrients as they can get to make themselves big and strong and the mothers want to make sure they have enough nutrients to give birth to as many fit offspring as they can. I will look at the function and evolution of placental gene expression to understand how conflict has contributed to the evolution of placental nutrition, and how a maternal-embryo arms race may explain some of the current mysteries of placental diversity.

Right: Pseudemoia entrecasteauxii. Photo credit Jacquie Herbert



O.W. Griffith, J.U. Van Dyke, M.B. Thompson (In press) No implantation in an extrauterine pregnancy of a placentotrophic reptile. Placenta.


Wongvilas, S., Deowanish, S., Lim, J., Xie, V. R. D., Griffith, O. W. and Oldroyd, B. P. (2010). Interspecific and conspecific colony mergers in the dwarf honey bees Apis andreniformis and A. florea. Insectes Sociaux, 57, 251-255.

Conference papers


O.W. Griffith, M.C. Brandley and M.B. Thompson (2013) Using next-generation sequencing to understand the functionality of the placenta of a placentotrophic lizard. Australian Society of Herpetologists 37th meeting, Point Wollstonecroft, NSW (Presented by Griffith)

J.A. McKenna, O.W. Griffith and M.B. Thompson (2013) Linking embryo survival and cancer susceptibility: using skinks to investigate the role of VEGF. Australian Society of Herpetologists 37th meeting, Point Wollstonecroft, NSW (Presented by McKenna)

M.C. Brandley, O.W. Griffith and M.B. Thompson (2013) Gene expression associated with the recent evolution of viviparity in a reproductive bimodal skink (Lerista bougainvillii). (Presented by Brandley)


Griffith, O. W., Belov, K., Beata Ujvari and Thompson, M. B. (2012), Lipoprotein lipase expression increases in the uterus of a pregnant skink. 7th World Congress of Herpetology, Vancouver, Canada (Presented by Griffith).


Griffith, O. W., Belov, K. and Thompson, M. B. (2011), Patterns of lipoprotein lipase expression in the uterus of the southern grass skink. Australian Society of Herpetologists 36th meeting, Paluma, Queensland (Presented by Griffith).

Academic Scholarships and Awards

Year Academic Scholarships and Awards
2012 Herpetologists League Graduate Research Prize, third place (Oral presentation) at the 7th World Congress of Herpetology, Vancouver
2012 University of Sydney Postgraduate Research Support Scheme
2012 Australian Post Graduate Award
2011 Murray Little John Award for best presented conference paper by an honours student at The Australian Society of Herpetologists
2011 Australian Society of Herpetologists Travel Grant

Laboratory and Classroom Teaching

Year Laboratory and Classroom Teaching
2011-2013 Cell Biology (BIOL2016) – The University of Sydney
2012 Living Systems (BIOL1002) – The University of Sydney
2012-2013 School of Biological Sciences HSC Kick Start Program – The University of Sydney

Professional Society memberships

  • Australian Herpetological Society
  • Australian Society of Herpetologists
  • Genetics Society of Australasia
  • The Herpetologists' League
  • Society for the Study of Evolution
  • Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles

Below: Developing Pseudemoia entrecasteauxii in utero.

Developing Pseudemoia entrecasteauxii in utero