Dr Camilla Whittington

A08 - Heydon-Laurence Building
The University of Sydney

Telephone +61 2 9351 8621

Biographical details

February 2013–present. Postdoctoral Researcher, School of Biological Sciences, The University of Sydney

August 2011–February 2013. Postdoctoral Fellow, Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies, University of Zurich, Switzerland

July 2009–July 2010. Fulbright Scholar, Washington University School of Medicine, MO, USA

2007–2011. Doctor of Philosophy; thesis entitled “Evolution of venom: gene discovery in the platypus”, Faculty of Veterinary Science, The University of Sydney

2003–2006. Bachelor of Science in Agriculture (Hons I, University Medal), The University of Sydney

Research interests

The history of life on Earth is a story of the repeated emergence of complex novel traits such as wings and eyes. These innovations allowed organisms to adapt to new and changing environments. They have shaped the evolutionary trajectories of all living things, including ourselves, and will continue to do so in the future. I aim to understand the way that complex novel traits evolve by studying the genes that underlie venom and live birth, two complex novel traits that have evolved independently many times in animals. Through this research, I am also working to increase our knowledge of the fundamental biology of some of Australia’s unique native species: the platypus, pot-bellied seahorse, and Sphenomorphus group skinks. My interests encompass genetics and genomics, physiology, animal behaviour, conservation, and evolution.

Current projects

My platypus research aims primarily to understand the evolution of mammalian venom. My work was the first investigation of venom to utilise next generation sequencing techniques (RNA-seq), as well as the first attempt to characterise all of the venom toxins of any mammal. We developed a novel methodology for identifying venom genes in species for which there is very little venom available for study, which in the future will enable in-depth characterisations of previously unstudied venoms. My work has also yielded a plethora of putative novel platypus venom toxins for further functional testing, which may be useful for pharmaceutical development.

I have transferred the genomic techniques utilised in the platypus to other species with my research into the evolution of another complex novel trait, viviparity (live birth). I am currently working on projects investigating the evolution of male pregnancy in Syngnathid fish (seahorses and pipefish) and female pregnancy in skinks, involving the application of comparative genomic techniques to non-model organisms without a sequenced genome. The information gained from studies of these phylogenetically diverse groups will enable me to characterise the evolutionary pathways undertaken during the transition from oviparity (egg laying) to viviparity.

Awards and honours

D.G. Catcheside Award, Genetics Society of Australasia (2012)

Finalist for the University of Sydney Rita and John Cornforth Medal for PhD achievement (2012)

Veterinary Science Foundation PhD Excellence award, University of Sydney (2011)

Fulbright Postgraduate Scholar (2009)

Honorable mention for the Terry Amundson prize, Wildlife Disease Association (2009)

Mayo Prize, Genetics Society of Australasia (2008)

William and Catherine McIlrath Scholarship, University of Sydney (2008)

Eric Horatio Maclean Scholarship, University of Sydney (2007)

William and Catherine McIlrath Scholarship, University of Sydney (2007)

Australian Postgraduate Award (2007–2010)

Selected publications

Download citations: PDF RTF Endnote

Journals

  • Whittington, C., Belov, K. (2014). Tracing Monotreme Venom Evolution in the Genomics Era. Toxins, 6, 1260-1273.
  • Whittington, C., Musolf, K., Sommer, S., Wilson, A. (2013). Behavioural cues of reproductive status in seahorses Hippocampus abdominalis. Journal of Fish Biology, 83(1), 220-226. [More Information]
  • Whittington, C., Wilson, A. (2013). The role of prolactin in fish reproduction. General and Comparative Endocrinology, 191, 123-136. [More Information]
  • Wong, E., Papenfuss, A., Whittington, C., Warren, W., Belov, K. (2012). A Limited Role for Gene Duplications in the Evolution of Platypus venom. Molecular Biology and Evolution, 29(1), 167-177. [More Information]
  • Wong, E., Morgenstern, D., Mofiz, E., Gombert, S., Morris, K., Temple-Smith, P., Renfree, M., Whittington, C., King, G., Warren, W., Belov, K., et al (2012). Proteomics and deep sequencing comparison of seasonally active venom glands in the platypus reveals novel venom peptides and distinct expression profiles. Molecular and Cellular Proteomics, 11(11), 1354-1364. [More Information]
  • Sommer, S., Whittington, C., Wilson, A. (2012). Standardised classification of pre-release development in male-brooding pipefish, seahorses, and seadragons (Family Syngnathidae). BMC Developmental Biology, 12(1), 1-6. [More Information]
  • Whittington, C., Papenfuss, A., Locke, D., Mardis, E., Wilson, R., Abubucker, S., Mitreva, M., Wong, E., Hsu, A., Kuchel, P., Belov, K., et al (2010). Novel venom gene discovery in the platypus. Genome Biology, 11:R95(http://genomebiology.com/2010/11/9/R95), 1-13. [More Information]
  • Yuasa, H., Ball, H., Ho, Y., Austin, C., Whittington, C., Belov, K., Maghzal, G., Jermiin, L., Hunt, N. (2009). Characterization and evolution of vertebrate indoleamine 2, 3-dioxygenases (IDOs) from monotremes and marsupials. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology. Part B: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 153(2), 137-144. [More Information]
  • Wong, E., Sanderson, C., Deakin, J., Whittington, C., Papenfuss, A., Belov, K. (2009). Identification of natural killer cell receptor clusters in the platypus genome reveals an expansion of C-type lectin genes. Immunogenetics, 61, 565-579. [More Information]
  • Whittington, C., Sharp, J., Papenfuss, A., Belov, K. (2009). No evidence of expression of Two Classes of Natural Antibiotics (cathelicidins and defensins) in a sample of Platypus Milk. Australian Journal of Zoology, 57(4), 211-217.
  • Zhao, Y., Cui, H., Whittington, C., Wei, Z., Zhang, X., Zhang, Z., Yu, L., Ren, L., Hu, X., Zhang, Y., Belov, K., et al (2009). Ornithorhynchus anatinus (Platypus) Links the Evolution of Immunoglobulin Genes in Eutherian Mammals and Nonmammalian Tetrapods. Journal of Immunology, 183(2), 3285-3293.
  • Whittington, C., Belov, K. (2009). Platypus venom genes expressed in non-venom tissues. Australian Journal of Zoology, 57(4), 199-202.
  • Whittington, C., Koh, J., Warren, W., Papenfuss, A., Torres, A., Kuchel, P., Belov, K. (2009). Understanding and utilising mammalian venom via a platypus venom transcriptome. Journal of Proteomics, 72(2), 155-164. [More Information]
  • Veyrunes, F., Waters, P., Miethke, P., Rens, W., McMillan, D., Alsop, A., Grutzer, F., Deakin, J., Whittington, C., Schatzkamer, K., et al (2008). Bird-like sex chromosomes of platypus imply recent origin of mammal sex chromosomes. Genome Research, 18, 965-973.
  • Whittington, C., Papenfuss, A., Bansal, P., Torres, A., Wong, E., Deakin, J., Graves, T., Alsop, A., Schatzkamer, K., Kremitzki, C., Kuchel, P., Belov, K., et al (2008). Defensins and the convergent evolution of platypus and reptile venom genes. Genome Research. [More Information]
  • Whittington, C., Papenfuss, A., Kuchel, P., Belov, K. (2008). Expression patterns of Platypus defensin and related venom genes across a range of tissue types reveal the possibility of broader functions for OvDLPs than previously suspected. Toxicon, 52, 559-565. [More Information]
  • Warren, W., Hillier, L., Marshall Graves, J., Birney, E., Ponting, C., Grutzner, F., Belov, K., Miller, W., Clarke, L., Chinwalla, A., Whittington, C., Wong, E., et al (2008). Genome analysis of the platypus reveals unique signatures of evolution. Nature, 453, 175-184.
  • Whittington, C., Belov, K. (2007). Platypus venom: a review. Australian Mammalogy, 29(1), 57-62.

Conferences

  • Whittington, C., Papenfuss, A., Moran, C., Warren, W., Belov, K. (2013). Evolution of venom: gene discovery in the platypus. Genetics Society of AustralAsia Inc Annual Conference Sydney - Genetics in the Harbour City, Sydney: Genetics Society of AustralAsia, Inc.
  • Whittington, C., Griffith, O., Wilson, A. (2013). Genomics and evolution of male pregnancy in seahorses and pipefish. Genetics Society of AustralAsia Inc Annual Conference Sydney - Genetics in the Harbour City, Sydney: Genetics Society of AustralAsia, Inc.

2014

  • Whittington, C., Belov, K. (2014). Tracing Monotreme Venom Evolution in the Genomics Era. Toxins, 6, 1260-1273.

2013

  • Whittington, C., Musolf, K., Sommer, S., Wilson, A. (2013). Behavioural cues of reproductive status in seahorses Hippocampus abdominalis. Journal of Fish Biology, 83(1), 220-226. [More Information]
  • Whittington, C., Papenfuss, A., Moran, C., Warren, W., Belov, K. (2013). Evolution of venom: gene discovery in the platypus. Genetics Society of AustralAsia Inc Annual Conference Sydney - Genetics in the Harbour City, Sydney: Genetics Society of AustralAsia, Inc.
  • Whittington, C., Griffith, O., Wilson, A. (2013). Genomics and evolution of male pregnancy in seahorses and pipefish. Genetics Society of AustralAsia Inc Annual Conference Sydney - Genetics in the Harbour City, Sydney: Genetics Society of AustralAsia, Inc.
  • Whittington, C., Wilson, A. (2013). The role of prolactin in fish reproduction. General and Comparative Endocrinology, 191, 123-136. [More Information]

2012

  • Wong, E., Papenfuss, A., Whittington, C., Warren, W., Belov, K. (2012). A Limited Role for Gene Duplications in the Evolution of Platypus venom. Molecular Biology and Evolution, 29(1), 167-177. [More Information]
  • Wong, E., Morgenstern, D., Mofiz, E., Gombert, S., Morris, K., Temple-Smith, P., Renfree, M., Whittington, C., King, G., Warren, W., Belov, K., et al (2012). Proteomics and deep sequencing comparison of seasonally active venom glands in the platypus reveals novel venom peptides and distinct expression profiles. Molecular and Cellular Proteomics, 11(11), 1354-1364. [More Information]
  • Sommer, S., Whittington, C., Wilson, A. (2012). Standardised classification of pre-release development in male-brooding pipefish, seahorses, and seadragons (Family Syngnathidae). BMC Developmental Biology, 12(1), 1-6. [More Information]

2010

  • Whittington, C., Papenfuss, A., Locke, D., Mardis, E., Wilson, R., Abubucker, S., Mitreva, M., Wong, E., Hsu, A., Kuchel, P., Belov, K., et al (2010). Novel venom gene discovery in the platypus. Genome Biology, 11:R95(http://genomebiology.com/2010/11/9/R95), 1-13. [More Information]

2009

  • Yuasa, H., Ball, H., Ho, Y., Austin, C., Whittington, C., Belov, K., Maghzal, G., Jermiin, L., Hunt, N. (2009). Characterization and evolution of vertebrate indoleamine 2, 3-dioxygenases (IDOs) from monotremes and marsupials. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology. Part B: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 153(2), 137-144. [More Information]
  • Wong, E., Sanderson, C., Deakin, J., Whittington, C., Papenfuss, A., Belov, K. (2009). Identification of natural killer cell receptor clusters in the platypus genome reveals an expansion of C-type lectin genes. Immunogenetics, 61, 565-579. [More Information]
  • Whittington, C., Sharp, J., Papenfuss, A., Belov, K. (2009). No evidence of expression of Two Classes of Natural Antibiotics (cathelicidins and defensins) in a sample of Platypus Milk. Australian Journal of Zoology, 57(4), 211-217.
  • Zhao, Y., Cui, H., Whittington, C., Wei, Z., Zhang, X., Zhang, Z., Yu, L., Ren, L., Hu, X., Zhang, Y., Belov, K., et al (2009). Ornithorhynchus anatinus (Platypus) Links the Evolution of Immunoglobulin Genes in Eutherian Mammals and Nonmammalian Tetrapods. Journal of Immunology, 183(2), 3285-3293.
  • Whittington, C., Belov, K. (2009). Platypus venom genes expressed in non-venom tissues. Australian Journal of Zoology, 57(4), 199-202.
  • Whittington, C., Koh, J., Warren, W., Papenfuss, A., Torres, A., Kuchel, P., Belov, K. (2009). Understanding and utilising mammalian venom via a platypus venom transcriptome. Journal of Proteomics, 72(2), 155-164. [More Information]

2008

  • Veyrunes, F., Waters, P., Miethke, P., Rens, W., McMillan, D., Alsop, A., Grutzer, F., Deakin, J., Whittington, C., Schatzkamer, K., et al (2008). Bird-like sex chromosomes of platypus imply recent origin of mammal sex chromosomes. Genome Research, 18, 965-973.
  • Whittington, C., Papenfuss, A., Bansal, P., Torres, A., Wong, E., Deakin, J., Graves, T., Alsop, A., Schatzkamer, K., Kremitzki, C., Kuchel, P., Belov, K., et al (2008). Defensins and the convergent evolution of platypus and reptile venom genes. Genome Research. [More Information]
  • Whittington, C., Papenfuss, A., Kuchel, P., Belov, K. (2008). Expression patterns of Platypus defensin and related venom genes across a range of tissue types reveal the possibility of broader functions for OvDLPs than previously suspected. Toxicon, 52, 559-565. [More Information]
  • Warren, W., Hillier, L., Marshall Graves, J., Birney, E., Ponting, C., Grutzner, F., Belov, K., Miller, W., Clarke, L., Chinwalla, A., Whittington, C., Wong, E., et al (2008). Genome analysis of the platypus reveals unique signatures of evolution. Nature, 453, 175-184.

2007

  • Whittington, C., Belov, K. (2007). Platypus venom: a review. Australian Mammalogy, 29(1), 57-62.

To update your profile click here. For support on your academic profile contact .