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



Why I use Sans-serif fonts like Arial in my PPT files.

A lot of people use fonts like times new roman in their presentations. Times and similar fonts are great for blocks of text on a book page, but there are issues in presentations where you have small amounts of text and want maximum legibility. The Serif fonts tend to get hard to see at small sizes reducing legibility. Here is an example to show how Arial, for example, is easier to read than Times New Roman, especially at smaller font sizes (or large font sizes viewed from the back of a large lecture theatre).

Arial vs Times New Roman

Arial vs Times New Roman


Powerpoint tips: Combining shapes

combine shapes to make a female symbol...

combine shapes to make a female symbol…

Ever wish you could make your own “auto shapes” – want something different like a coloured square with a circular cutout that shows things in layers behind… Powerpoint includes this capacity but Micro$oft hides it from you. This post shows you how to activate this function and use it.




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Focus stacking for photomicroscopy

A common problem with photomicrography is a section that is not totally flat so parts of it are out of the plane of sharp focus. For example here is a section with a wrinkle where a blood vessel altered the consistency of the wax and led to poor flattening of the section on the slide:microscope section with an out of focus wrinkle

When looking through the microscope we can compensate by focusing up and down, and we can do much the same with digital image processing using a “focus stack”. Here are some photos I took of the same section without moving the stage, but with a series of focus steps from furthest to nearest (I am showing every second image, to save space whilst giving you the idea… starting with image 1 above… Continue reading