Madeleine is ARC Future Fellow / Senior Principal Research Scientist in the "A Healthy and Resilient GBR" Program.
My experience and expertise mostly lies in the areas of microbial symbioses in corals, coral bleaching, adaptation and acclimatisation of corals to climate change and connectivity of coral reefs. For this research, I employ a wide range of laboratory and field approaches and combine ecological/population/functional genetics and genomics with the study of organismal (photo)physiology, ecology, and morphology. My research has had significant impacts on our understanding of the coral-Symbiodinium symbiosis and the acclimatisation of corals to environmental changes through temporal changes in the relative abundances of the various Symbiodinium types in coral tissues, the connectivity of coral populations around Australia and their recovery from major perturbations through external recruitment, and the role of introgressive hybridisation in shaping the evolutionary trajectories of 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
I currently hold a 4-year ARC Future Fellowship to begin to unveil the diversity and roles of viruses that are associated with reef corals and their eukaryotic (e.g., Symbiodinium) and prokaryotic symbionts.

A second main research area is the 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 and experimental evolution in Symbiodinium.
Expert Committees and Boards
  • Program leader AIMS@JCU "Stress in tropical marine systems" program (2005-present)
  • Member of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (2006-present)
  • Great Barrier Reef Foundation working group Solutions and Adaptations (2009-2011)
  • Elected member Great Barrier Reef Foundation coral genomics advisory group
  • GBRMPA Expert advisory panel - climate change incidents (2009-present)
  • Subject editor Molecular Ecology (2010-present)
Over 100 science papers (total citations 4149, Web of Science h-index 39). The following are a selection of recent publications:

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.

Bay LK, Ulstrup KE, Nielsen HB, Jarmer H, Goffard N, Willis BL, Miller DJ, van Oppen MJH (2009) Microarray analysis reveals transcriptional plasticity in the reef building coral Acropora millepora. Molecular Ecology 18: 3062-3075.

Csaszar N, Seneca F, van Oppen MJH (2009) Variation in antioxidant gene expression in the scleractinian coral Acropora millepora under laboratory thermal stress. Marine Ecology Progress Series 392: 93-102.

Howells E, van Oppen MJH, Willis BL (2009) High genetic differentiation and cross-shelf patterns of genetic diversity among Great Barrier Reef populations of Symbiodinium. Coral Reefs 28: 215-225.

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.

Day T, Nagel L, van Oppen MJH, Caley MJ (2008) Factors affecting the evolution of bleaching resistance in corals. American Naturalist 171 (2): E72-E88.

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.

Mieog JC, van Oppen MJH, Cantin N, Stam WT, Olsen JL (2007) Real-time PCR reveals a high incidence of Symbiodinium clade D at low levels in four scleractinian corals across the Great Barrier Reef: implications for symbiont shuffling. Coral Reefs 26: 449-457.

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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