Academic Staff - Professor Mike Thompson

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Student: Oliver Griffith

Oliver with a snake

Phone: + 614 32 093216
Fax: +61 2 9351 4119
Email:
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

Publications

2014

Van Dyke, JU, Griffith, OW, Thompson, MB (In Press) High food abundance permits the evolution of placentotrophy: evidence from a placental lizard, Pseudemoia entrecasteauxii. American Naturalist.

2013

Griffith, O.W., Ujvari, B., Belov, K. & Thompson, M.B. (2013) Placental lipoprotein lipase (LPL) gene expression in a placentotrophic lizard, Pseudemoia entrecasteauxii. Journal of Experimental Zoology B, Molecular and Developmental Evolution, 320, 7, 465-470. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jez.b.22526

O.W. Griffith, J.U. Van Dyke, M.B. Thompson (In press) No implantation in an extrauterine pregnancy of a placentotrophic reptile. Placenta. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.placenta.2013.03.002

2010

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

2014

Griffith, O.W., Brandley, M.C., Belov, K. and Thompson, M.B. (2014) Reptilian placentae and the evolution of complex structures. 50th anniversary meeting of the Australian Society of Herpetologists, Greenhills, ACT. (Presented by Griffith)

Van Dyke, J.U., Griffith , O.W., Thompson, M.B. (2014) High food abundance permits the evolution of placentotrophy: evidence from a placental lizard, Pseudemoia entrecasteauxii. 50th anniversary meeting of the Australian Society of Herpetologists, Greenhills, ACT. (Presented by Van Dyke)

2013

Griffith, O.W., Brandley, M.C., Belov, K. and Thompson, M.B. (2013) Convergent use of genes in the evolution of placentation in amniotes. 8th Biannual Meeting of the Australasian Evolution Society, Geelong, VIC (Presented by Griffith)

Van Dyke, J.U., Griffith, O.W. & Thompson, M.B. (2013) Conditions Favouring the Evolution of Placental Provisioning in a Viviparous Skink: Hungry Moms and Infanticidal Cannibalism. 2013 Joint Meeting of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, Albuquerque, New Mexico (Presented by Van Dyke)

Griffith, O.W., Brandley, M.C., Belov, K. and Thompson, M.B. (2013) Gene expression and the evolution of placental functions in reptiles. 2013 conference of the Genetics Society of AustralAsia, Sydney, NSW (Presented by Griffith)

Whittington, C.M., Griffith, O.W. & Wilson, A.B. (2013) Genomics and evolution of male pregnancy in seahorses and pipefish. 2013 conference of the Genetics Society of AustralAsia, Sydney, NSW (Presented by Whittington)

McKenna, J.A., Griffith, O.W. and Thompson, M.B. (2013) Using lizards to investigate the genetic mechanisms controlling uterine angiogenesis during live birth: consequences for cancer. 2013 conference of the Genetics Society of AustralAsia, Sydney, NSW (Presented by McKenna)

Brandley, M.C., Griffith, O.W., & Thompson, M.B. (2013) Transcriptomic analysis of the evolution of viviparity and placental function in lizards. Evolution 2013, Snowbird, Utah (Presented by Brandley)

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)

2012

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).

2011

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
2014 Australian Society of Herpetologists’ student research grant - Genomic imprinting in a reptilian model   
2013 Finalist Post-Graduate Excellence Prize, School of Biological Science, University of Sydney.
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
2011-2014 Cell Biology (BIOL 2016) –University of Sydney
2013 Finalist Post-Graduate Excellence Prize, School of Biological Science, University of Sydney
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
  • The American Society of Naturalists

Below: Developing Pseudemoia entrecasteauxii in utero.

Developing Pseudemoia entrecasteauxii in utero