Madeleine is a Senior Principal Research Scientist in the "A Healthy and Resilient GBR" Program.
Madeleine holds a halftime position as a Senior Principal Research Scientist at the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), and a halftime Chair in Marine Biology at the University of Melbourne (School of BioSciences). Her research focuses on microbial symbiosis in corals, adaptation/acclimatisation to climate change, and connectivity of coral reefs. Her work is increasingly focusing on "assisted evolution", where mechanisms of adaptation and acclimatisation in corals and genetic manipulations to enhance stress tolerance and fitness of corals in a changing environment are explored.

1995: PhD, University of Groningen, Netherlands. Thesis "Tracking Trails by Cracking Codes: Molecular Biogeography and Evolution of Benthic Cold-Water Seaweeds".

Current Research Activities
The diversity and roles of viruses that are associated with reef corals and their eukaryotic (e.g., Symbiodinium) and prokaryotic symbionts.

Assessment of the feasibility of genetic manipulations to enhance stress tolerance and fitness of corals in a changing environment (i.e., assisted evolution). Approaches include the investigation of the importance of transgenerational acclimatisation through epigenetic modification, selective breeding of coral, manipulation of prokaryotic communities of corals, and experimental evolution in Symbiodinium.
Expert Committees and Boards
  • Member and adjunct Professorial Research Fellow of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Integrated Coral Reef Studies at JCU (2006-2021)
  • Great Barrier Reef Foundation working group Solutions and Adaptations (2009-2011)
  • Member of the ReFuGe2020 consortium (2012-present)
  • Subject editor Molecular Ecology (2010-present)
Over 130 science papers (total citations >5100, Web of Science h-index 42). The following are a selection of recent publications:

Wood-Charlson EM, Weynberg KD, Suttle C, Roux S, van Oppen MJH (2015) Metagenomic characterisation of viral communities in corals: Mining biological signal from methodological noise. Environmental Microbiology doi:10.1111/1462-2920.12803.

van Oppen MJH, Oliver JK, Putnam HM, Gates RD (2015) Building coral reef resilience through assisted evolution. PNAS 112:2307-2313

Abrego D, van Oppen MJH, Willis BL (2009) Onset of algal endosymbiont specificity varies among closely related species of Acropora corals during early ontogeny. Molecular Ecology 18:3532-3543.

Howells EJ, Beltran VH, Larsen NW, Bay LK, Willis BL, van Oppen MJH. Coral thermal tolerance shaped by local adaptation of photosymbionts. Nature Climate Change 2:116-120

Mieog JC, Olsen JL, Berkelmans RWC, Bleuler-Martinez SA, Willis BL, van Oppen MJH (2009) The roles and interactions of symbiont, host and environment in defining coral fitness. PLoS ONE 4(7):e6364.

Puill-Stephan E, Willis BL, van Herwerden L, van Oppen MJH (2009) Chimerism in Wild Adult Populations of the Broadcast Spawning Coral Acropora millepora on the Great Barrier Reef. PLoS ONE 4:e7751.

van Oppen MJH, Leong J, Gates RD (2009) Coral-virus interactions: A double-edged sword? Symbiosis 47:1-8.

Berkelmans R, van Oppen MJH (2006) The role of zooxanthellae in the thermal tolerance of corals: a 'nugget of hope' for coral reefs in an era of climate change. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B, Biological Sciences 273:2305-2312.

van Oppen MJH, Lutz AH, De'ath AG, Peplow L, Kininmonth SJ (2008) Genetic Traces of Recent Long-Distance Dispersal in a Predominantly Self-Recruiting Coral. PLoS ONE 3(10):e3401.

Little AF, van Oppen MJH, Willis BL (2004) Flexibility in algal endosymbiosis shapes growth of reef corals. Science 304: 1492-1494

Underwood JN, Smith LD, van Oppen MJH, Gilmour JP (2007) Multiple scales of genetic connectivity in a brooding coral on isolated reefs following catastrophic bleaching. Molecular Ecology 16:771-784.

van Oppen MJH, Gates RD (2006) Conservation genetics and the resilience of reef-building corals. Molecular Ecology 15:3863-3883.

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