Madeleine is a Senior Principal Research Scientist in the "A Healthy and Resilient GBR" Program.
Madeleine's research focuses on coral reef restoration, in particular the development of coral stock better able to cope with disturbed environments and predicted future ocean conditions (i.e., assisted evolution). This includes the study of microbial symbiosis in corals, and the genetic and epigenetic mechanisms of adaptation/acclimatisation to climate change. She also uses population genomic approaches to understand connectivity among coral reefs and signatures of selection in corals.

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

Current Research Activities
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 transgenerational acclimatisation, selective breeding of coral, manipulation of prokaryotic communities of corals, and experimental evolution in Symbiodinium.

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

Understanding of molecular processes involved in the establishment and maintenance of the coral-Symbiodinium symbiosis.
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)
  • Senior editor for the journal Molecular Ecology (2010-present)
  • Chair of Research & Industry committee School of BioSciences, University of Melbourne (2016 onwards)
>140 peer reviewed papers (total citations >5422, WoS h-index 43). 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 17(10):3440-3449

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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