Category Archives: Publications

Loading sets of images into powerpoint slides

Sometimes one may want to generate a PowerPoint slide with a set of images – for example a set of micrograph images to discuss with your colleagues (or a lovely set of your holiday photos to make your friends jealous). You can do this by manually adding each image, one by one, then resizing, repositioning, formatting …. , but there is a much quicker way. Here is a guide to automating the process. Continue reading

Fluorescence Images: Merging and optimising

If you are using fluorescence microscopy you may need to merge images taken with different filter sets – for example DAPI to pick out nuclei together with fluorescent staining with or or more specific antibodies. Commonly you will want to merge these images into a composite. Image optimisation and merging can be achieved easily using the free Fiji package with ImageJ. Continue reading

Uterine flushing proteome of the tammar wallaby

Uterine flushing proteome of the tammar wallaby after reactivatiCynthia Martin’s manuscript “Uterine flushing proteome of the tammar wallaby after reactivation from diapause.” was just accepted by the international journal Reproduction. The pre-press manuscript is available at The work is a collaboration between Cynthia, Chin Seng Ang, a proteomics specialist at Bio21, and her supervisors Geoff, David and Marilyn. This is the first study to investigate changes in uterine secretion profiles using extremely sensitive, cutting-edge LC-MS/MS approaches, and highlights some of the factors that may be involved in the regulation of embryonic diapause.

Pubmed Record:

New Publication: Uterine morphology …

Laird-2016-Uterine morphology during diapause and early pregnancy in the tammar wallaby-JAnat_Page_01-600Recently published is the result of a collaboration between our laboratory, our past PhD student Cyrma Hearn and Melanie Laird at the University of Sydney,  These findings demonstrate that diapause, like pregnancy, is under unilateral endocrine control in the tammar, and that preparation for and maintenance of diapause requires substantial changes to uterine endometrial cell ultrastructure and activity.

Laird-2016-Uterine morphology during diapause and early pregnancy in the tammar wallaby-JAnat-fig2-600

NEW PAPER: Rewinding the process of mammalian extinction.

ZooBiol2016Marilyn Renfree among a group of concerned scientists convened a multidisciplinary meeting under the name “Conservation by Cellular Technologies.” The outcome of this meeting was a proposed road map that, if successfully implemented, would ultimately lead to a self-sustaining population of an extremely endangered species are outlined here. This new paper provides an overview of these ideas.

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Effects of nutritional manipulation on body composition in the developing marsupial, Macropus eugenii

Hot off the press:

When 60-day-old tammar wallaby pouch young (Macropus eugenii) are fostered to mothers at 120 days of lactation, their growth, developmental rate and maturation of their GH/IGF axes are markedly accelerated. To determine the effect of fostering on energy intake, body composition and fat accretion, we first measured total body fat and lean mass in these young. Next, we mimicked the triglyceride oleic and palmitic acid composition of 120-day milk by supplementing 60 day young with these fatty acids and comparing their growth with that of growth accelerated young. There was no difference in the weight or growth axis maturation of supplemented young but there was significantly more body fat in these and in the growth-accelerated fostered young than in controls. We conclude that the accelerated growth and GH/IGF axis maturation observed previously in fostered young is most likely due to increased milk consumption and earlier access to specific nutrients.


New Publication with associated Journal Cover Page


The cover image, by Marilyn B. Renfree et al., is based on the Advanced Review The Mammalian Blastocyst, DOI: 10.1002/wdev.220. Marilyn B. Renfree et al. would also like to credit and thank fellow colleague, Geoff Shaw, for his design contribution

Another publication has been distinguished by use of our cover page design.

Frankenberg SR, de Barros FRO, Rossant J and Renfree MB (2016) The mammalian blastocyst. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Developmental Biology.

The full paper is available online at



Paper accepted: FOXA1 and SOX9 expression in the developing wallaby reproductive system

Just accepted in Sexual Development (10 June 2015):

FOXA1 and SOX9 expression in the developing urogenital sinus of the
tammar wallaby (Macropus eugenii)

by Melissa Gamat, Keng Chew, Geoff Shaw & Marilyn Renfree.

Developing prostate tissue

Developing prostate tissue in a male wallaby reproductive tract

The mammalian prostate is a compact structure in humans but multi-lobed in mice. In humans and mice, FOXA1 and SOX9 play pivotal roles in prostate morphogenesis but few other species have been examined. We examined FOXA1 and SOX9 in the marsupial tammar wallaby, Macropus eugenii which has a segmented prostate more similar to human than to mouse. In males, prostatic budding in the urogenital epithelium (UGE) was initiated by day 24 postpartum (pp) but in the female the UGE remained smooth and had begun forming the marsupial vaginal structures. FOXA1 was up-regulated in the male urogenital sinus (UGS) by day 51 pp, whilst in the female UGS FOXA1 remained basal. FOXA1 was localised in the UGE in both sexes between day 20-80 pp. SOX9 was up-regulated in the male UGS at day 21-30 pp and remained high until day 51-60 pp. SOX9 protein was localised in the distal tips of prostatic buds which were highly proliferative. The sustained up-regulation of the transcription factors SOX9 and FOXA1 after the initial peak and fall of androgen levels suggest that in the tammar, as in other mammals, these factors are required to sustain prostate differentiation, development and proliferation as androgen levels return to basal levels.

Update: The paper is now published and indexed in PUBMED at and the full citation is:

Gamat, M., Chew, K. Y., Shaw, G. and Renfree, M. B. (2015) FOXA1 and SOX9 Expression in the Developing Urogenital Sinus of the Tammar Wallaby (Macropus eugenii). Sex Dev 9: 216-228

NEW paper, just released: MHC genes in marsupials

Immunogenetics. 2015 May 9. [Epub ahead of print]

Characterisation of major histocompatibility complex class I genes at the fetal-maternal interface of marsupials.

Buentjen I1, Drews B, Frankenberg SR, Hildebrandt TB, Renfree MB, Menzies BR. Author information: · 1Department of Reproduction Management, Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, Alfred-Kowalke Strasse 17, Berlin, Germany,


Major histocompatibility complex class I molecules (MHC-I) are expressed at the cell surface and are responsible for the presentation of self and non-self antigen repertoires to the immune system. Eutherian mammals express both classical and non-classical MHC-I molecules in the placenta, the latter of which are thought to modulate the maternal immune response during pregnancy. Marsupials last shared a common ancestor with eutherian mammals such as humans and mice over 160 million years ago. Since, like eutherians, they have an intra-uterine development dependent on a placenta, albeit a short-lived and less invasive one, they provide an opportunity to investigate the evolution of MHC-I expression at the fetal-maternal interface. We have characterised MHC-I mRNA expression in reproductive tissues of the tammar wallaby (Macropus eugenii) from the time of placental attachment to day 25 of the 26.5 day pregnancy. Putative classical MHC-I genes were expressed in the choriovitelline placenta, fetus, and gravid endometrium throughout the whole of this period. The MHC-I classical sequences were phylogenetically most similar to the Maeu-UC (50/100 clones) and Maeu-UA genes (7/100 clones). Expression of three non-classical MHC-I genes (Maeu-UD, Maeu-UK and Maeu-UM) were also present in placental samples. The results suggest that expression of classical and non-classical MHC-I genes in extant marsupial and eutherian mammals may have been necessary for the evolution of the ancestral therian placenta and survival of the mammalian fetus at the maternal-fetal interface.

PMID: 25957041 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]