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Australian Government

Research Funding Provided by: Australian Government
Australian Research Council
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Network Member Profile

Sandra Rees


Professor Marilyn Renfree


University of Melbourne

Parkville, Victoria, 3010

Telephone: 03 8344 4376 Facsimile: 03 9348 1719


Web Address: Zoology / Kangaroo Genomics

Current Field of Study

  • Reproductive physiology and developmental biology of marsupials, especially sexual differentiation, germ cell and gamete biology, embryonic diapause, pregnancy and parturition and comparative genomics..

Australian Collaborators

  • Prof. Roger Short, FRS,FAA, The Dean's Ganglion, Medicine, The University of Melbourne Victoria 3010
  • Prof. Jenny Graves, FAA, Research School of Biological Science, Australian National University, Canberra ACT
  • Prof. Des Cooper, School of Biological Sciences, University of NSW, Sydney, NSW
  • Dr Kath Handasyde, Department of Zoology, University of Melbourne, Victoria 3010

International Collaborators

  • Dr Anne McLaren DBE, FRS, The Gurdon Institute, Cambridge,United Kingdom
  • Prof Jean D Wilson, Professor J.D. Wilson, Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, Dallas, Texas USA
  • Prof Richard R Behringer, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Centre, Houston, Texas USA
  • Prof Fumi Ishino, Medical Research Institute, Tokyo Medical and Dental University, Tokyo 0062, Japan
  • Dr Nathalie Josso, INSERM Clamart , Paris, France


  • Confocal and fluorescent microscopes
  • Micromanipulation apparatus
  • Affymetrix microarray
  • Transmission and scanning electron microscopy
  • Breeding colony of wallabies

Lab Members

Prof Marilyn Renfree

Head of the Lab

A/Prof Geoffrey Shaw
Reader and Associate Professor
Dr Terry Fletcher Senior Lecturer
Dr Andrew Pask NHMRC RD Wright Research Fellow
Dr Danielle Hickford ARC Postdoctoral Fellow
Dr Hongshi Yu Postdoctoral Fellow
Ms Helen Gehring Research Assistant
Mr Scott Brownlees Animal Technician (breeding colony)
Ms Natalie Calatayud PhD Student
Mr Jinwei Chung PhD Student
Ms Jane Fenelon PhD Student
Ms Melissa Gamat PhD Student
Mr Brandon Menzies PhD Student
Dr Claudia Freyer PhD Student
Ms Yanqui Hu PhD Student
Mr Keng Yi Chew Honours student 2007
Ms Jessica Stringer Honours student 2007


Recent Grant Income



Type of Grant


Income p.a.

Extrinsic control of mammalian germ cell delineation Renfree, M.B., Shaw, G., Pask, A.J., Hickford,D. ARC Discovery 2005-2008 $80 000
Fertility Management of Koalas, Kangaroos and Wallabies Cooper, Herbert, Renfree, Bencini, Shaw, Handasyde, Trigg, Shimmin, Moss, Walker, Menkhorst, Morris, Mawson ARC Linkage 2005-2008 $300 000
Genes to phenotype: exploiting the marsupial model Renfree, MB. ARC Federation Fellowship 2004-2008 $290 000
New models for the onset of virilisation in the developing male Renfree, MB., Shaw, G., Pask, AJ., Wilson, J. NHMRC Project 2005-2007 $133 250
Kangaroo Genome Centre of Excellence Graves, J., Renfree, MB., Cooper, D. ARC Centre 2003-2007 $262 000
Melbourne node of the CRC for Innovative Dairy Products Renfree, Nicholas   2005-2007 $295 000

Recent Publications

1. Renfree, MB, Pask, AJ and Shaw, G. (2006) Sexual development in the marsupial male. Aust.J.Zool. (in press).

2. Freyer, C.H., Zeller, U. and Renfree, M.B. (2006) Placental function in two distantly related marsupials. Placenta (in press)

3. Shaw,G. and Renfree, M.B., (2006) Parturition and perfect prematurity: Birth in marsupials. Aust.J.Zool. (in press).

4. Shaw,G., Fenelon, J., Sichlau, M., Auchus, R.J., Wilson, J..D.., and. Renfree, M.B. (2006) Role of the alternate pathway of dihydrotestosterone formation in virilization of the Wolffian ducts of the tammar wallaby, Macropus eugenii. Endocrinology [Epub ahead of print]

5. Behringer, R.R., Ekin,G. and Renfree, M.B., (2006) Mammalian diversity: gamete, embryos and reproduction Reproduction, Fertility and Development 18, 99-107.

6. Richardson, S.J., Monk, J.A., Shepherdley,C., Ebbesson, L.O.E., Sin, F., Power, D.M., Renfree, M.B., Kohrle,J. and Frappell, P.B. (2005) Developmentally regulated thyroid hormone distributor proteins in marsupials, a reptile and fishes. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol 288:R1264-R1272.

7. Paris, D.B.B.P., Taggart, D.A., Shaw, G., Temple-Smith, P.D. and Renfree, M.B. (2005) Birth of pouch young after artificial insemination in the tammar wallaby (Macropus eugenii). Biol Reprod 72: 451 - 459

8. Suzuki, S. Renfree, M.B, Pask, A.J, Shaw, G. Kobayashi, S, Kohada, T. Kaneko-Ishino T., Ishino, F. (2005) Genomic imprinting of IGF2, P57 KIP2 and PEG1/MEST in a marsupial, the tammar wallaby. Mechanisms of Development 122: 213-222

9. Herbert, C.A., Trigg, T.E., Renfree, M.B., Shaw, G, Eckery, D and Cooper, D.W. (2005) Long term effects of deslorelin on reproductive success and plasma progesterone and LH concentrations in the female tammar wallaby, Macropus eugenii. Reproduction 129: 353-361

10. Wilson, J.D., Shaw, G., Renfree, M.B., Auchus, R.J., Leihy, M.W., and Eckery, D.C. (2005) Ontogeny and pathway of formation of 5a-androstane-3a,17b-diol in the testes of the immature brushtail possum Trichosurus vulpecula. Reprod.Fert.Dev.17: 603-609

11. Paris, D.B.B.P., Taggart, D.A., Shaw, G., Temple-Smith, P.D. and Renfree, M.B. (2005) Changes in semen quality and morphology of the reproductive tract of the male tammar wallaby parallel seasonal breeding activity in the female Reproduction 130: 367-378

12. Hynes, E., Rudd, C.D., Temple-Smith, P.D., Sofronidis, G., Paris, D.B.B.P., Shaw, G., & Renfree, M.B. (2005) Mating sequence, dominance and paternity success in captive male tammar wallabies. Reprod. 130: 123-130

13. Park, D.J., Pask,. A.J., Huynh, K., Harley, V.R., Renfree, M.B. and Graves, J.A.M. (2005) Characterisation of the marsupial ATRY gene: implications for the evolution of male-specific function. Gene 362:29-36

14. Glickman, S., Short, R.V. and Renfree, M.B. (2005) Sexual differentiation in three unconventional mammals: spotted hyenas, elephants and tammar wallabies Hormones and Behaviour 48 (4); 403-417

15. Pask, A.J., Whitworth, D.J., Mao, C-A., Sankovic, N., Wei, K-J., Graves, J.A.M., Shaw, G., Renfree, M.B., & Behringer, R.R. (2004) Marsupial anti-Müllerian hormone gene structure, regulatory elements and expression. Biol. Reprod 70:160-7

16. Zhang, Z., Short, R.V., Meehan, T., De Kretser, D.M., Renfree, M.B. & Loveland, K.L. (2004) Functional analysis of the cooled rat testis. J Androl. 25:57-68

17. Park, D.J., Renfree, M.B. & Graves, J.A.M. (2004) Universal Fast Walking applied to cDNA. Preparative Biochemistry and Biotechnology 34:123-133

18. Herbert, C.A., Trigg, T.E., Renfree, M.B., Shaw, G, Eckery, D & Cooper, D.W. (2004) Effects of a gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonist implant on reproduction in a male marsupial, Macropus eugenii. Biol Reprod. 70:1836-42

19. Richardson, S.J., Monk, J.A., Shepherdley, C.A., Ebbesson, L.O., Sin, F., Power, D.M., Frappell, P.B., Kohrle, J., Renfree, M.B. (2005) Developmentally Regulated Thyroid Hormone Distributor Proteins in Marsupials, a Reptile and Fishes. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. [Epub ahead of print]

20. Park, D.J., Pask, A.J., Huynh, K., Renfree, M.B., Harley, V.R., Graves, J.A. (2004) Comparative analysis of ATRX, a chromatin remodeling protein. Gene. 339:39-48.

21. Leihy, M.L., Shaw, G., Wilson, J.D. & Renfree, M.B. (2004) Penile development is initiated in the tammar wallaby pouch young during the period when 5a-androstane-3a,17b-diol is secreted by the testes Endocrinology 145: 3346-3352

22. Richings, N.M., Shaw, G., Temple-Smith, P.D. & Renfree, M.B. (2004) Intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection in a marsupial Macropus eugenii. Reproduction, 128: 595-605.

23. Paris D.B.B.P. Taggart D.A., Paris M.C.J., Temple-Smith. P.D. and Renfree, M.B. (2004) Sperm transport, size of the seminal plug and the timing of ovulation after natural mating in the female tammar wallaby Macropus eugenii. Repro.Fert & Dev. 16:1-12

24. Wilson, J.D., Auchus, R.J., Leihy, M.W., Guryev, O.L., Estabrook, R.W., Osborn, S.M., Shaw, G. and Renfree M.B. (2003) 5a-Androstane-3a,17b-diol is formed in testes from tammar wallaby pouch young by a pathway involving 5a-pregnane-3a,17a-diol-20-one as a key intermediate. Endocrinology 144:575-580

25. Trott, J.F., Simpson, K J., Moyle, R., Hearn C.M., Shaw, G., Nicholas K.R. & Renfree, M.B. (2003) Maternal regulation of milk composition, milk production and pouch young development during lactation in the tammar wallaby (Macropus eugenii). Biol. Reprod. 68:929-936

26. Zheng, Z., Renfree, M.B. & Short, R.V. (2003) Successful inter- and intra-specific male germ cell transplantation in the rat. Biology of Reproduction 68 961-967

27. Park, D., Pask, A.J., Renfree, M.B., Graves, J.M. (2003) 3' RACE Walking along a large cDNA employing tiered suppression PCR. Biotechniques 34 1-4

28. Freyer, C., Zeller, U. & Renfree, M.B. (2003) The marsupial placenta:a phylogenetic analysis. J Exp. Zool. 299:59-77.

29. Renfree, M.B. (2003) Review of Reproductive science and integrated conservation Aust.Mammalogy 25:119-120

30. Wilson, J.D., Leihy, M.W., Shaw, G. & Renfree, M.B. (2003) Unsolved problems in male physiology: studies in a marsupial. Mol. Cell. Endocrin. 211:33-36

31. Pask, A.J., Behringer, R.R. & Renfree, M.B. (2003) DMRT1 in a marsupial and its expression in the marsupial and mouse ovary Cytogenetics and Genome Research 101: 229-36

32. Renfree, M.B., Wilson, J.D. & Shaw, G. (2002) The hormonal control of sexual development In The genetics and biology of sex determination Novartis Foundation Symposium 244 John Wiley & Sons ( Chichester, UK and New York, USA) 136-152

33. Richardson, S.J., Aldred, A.R., Leng, S.L., Renfree, M.B. Hulbert, A.J. & Schreiber, G. (2002) Developmental profile of thyroid hormone distributor proteins in a marsupial, the tammar wallaby, I. Gen. Comp. End. 125:92-103.

34. Wilson, J.D., Shaw, G., Leihy, M.L. & Renfree, M.B. (2002) The marsupial model for male phenotypic development. Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism 13:78-83.

35. Nave, C.D., Coulson, G., Poiani, A., Shaw, G. & Renfree, M.B. (2002) Fertility control in the eastern grey kangaroo using levonorgestrel implants. Wildlife Management 66:470-477

36. Nave, C.D., Coulson, G., Short, R.V., Poiani, A., Shaw, G. & Renfree, M.B. (2002) Long-term fertility control in the kangaroo and wallaby using levonorgestrel implants. Reproduction Supplement 60:71-80

37. Renfree, M.B. (2002) Hypothermic anaesthesia of early postnatal marsupial pouch young. In Learning, Animals and Environment: Changing the face of the future. ANZCCART 15:119-121

38. Pask, A.J., Harry, J.L., Graves, J.A.M., Waugh O'Neill, R., Layfield, S.L., Shaw, G. & Renfree, M.B. (2002) SOX9 has both conserved and novel roles in marsupial sexual differentiation. Genesis 33:131-139

39. Leihy M.L., Shaw, G., Renfree, M.B. & Wilson, J.D. (2002) Masculinization of the female reproductive tract of the tammar wallaby by 5a-androstan-3a, 17b-diol. Endocrinology 143: 2643-2651

40. Coveney, D., Shaw, G. & Renfree, M.B. (2002) Effects of oestrogen on testicular descent, inguinal closure and prostatic development in a male marsupial, Macropus eugenii. Reproduction 124: 78-83

41. Freyer, C., H., Zeller, U. & Renfree, M.B. (2002) Ultrastructure of the placenta of the tammar wallaby, Macropus eugenii: Comparison with the grey short-tailed opossum, Monodelphis domestica. J Anatomy 201:101-120

42. Wilson, J.D,. Leihy, M.W. Shaw, G., & M.B. Renfree (2002) Androgen physiology: unsolved problems at the millennium Mol. Cell. Endocrin. 198:1-5

43. Coveney, D; Shaw, G,.Hutson J.M. and Renfree M B. (2002) Effect of an anti-androgen on testicular descent and inguinal closure in a marsupial, the tammar wallaby (Macropus eugenii). Reproduction 124 865-874

44. Coveney, D., Shaw, G., Hutson J.M. and Renfree M. B. (2002) The development of the gubernaculum and inguinal closure in the tammar wallaby Macropus eugenii J.Anat 201:239-256

45. Myers, C., Allen, W.R., Lincoln, G.A., Hearn, J.P., & Renfree, M.B. (Eds) (2001) From Elephants to Aids (Essays in honour of R.V. Short). Reproduction, Fertility and Development Volume 13

46. Renfree, M.B. & Shaw, G. (2001) Germ cells, gonads and sex reversal in marsupials. Int. J. Dev. Biol. 45:553-563.

47. Pask, A. & Renfree, M.B. (2001) Sex determining genes and sexual differentiation in a marsupial. J. Exp. Zool. 290:586-596

48. Ingram, J.N., Renfree, M.B. & Shaw, G. (2001) Spontaneous contractility and nitric oxide sensitivity in gravid and non-gravid myometrium during pregnancy in a marsupial (Macropus eugenii) Endocrinology 142:2244-51.

49. Renfree, M.B., Coveney, D. & Shaw, G. (2001) The influence of oestrogen on the developing male marsupial. Reprod. Fert. Dev. 13:231-240.

50. Coveney, D., Shaw, G. & Renfree, M.B. (2001) Oestrogen induced gonadal sex reversal in the tammar wallaby. Biology of Reproduction 65: 613-621.

51. Whitworth, D. Pask, A. Behringer, R.R., Shaw, G. & Renfree, M.B. (2001) The marsupial steroidogenic factor 1 gene. Gene 277: 209-219.

52. Leihy, M, Shaw, G., Wilson, J.D. & M.B. Renfree (2001) Virilization of the urogenital sinus of the tammar wallaby is not unique to 5a-androstane-3a,17b-diol. (2001) Mol. Cell. Endocrin. 181:111-115.

53. Allen, W.R., Hearn, J.P., Lincoln, G.A. & Renfree, M.B. (2001) Foreword to 'From Elephants to AIDS. Essays in Biology in Honour of Roger V. Short'. Reprod Fert Develop. 13; p. v-vi

54. Renfree, M.B., Pask, A.J. & Shaw, G (2001) Sex down under: the differentiation of sexual dimorphisms during marsupial development. Reprod Fert Develop. 13:679-690

55. Shaw, G & Renfree, M.B. (2001) Fetal control of parturition in marsupials. Reprod Fert Develop. 13:653-659

56. Renfree, M.B. (2000) Maternal recognition of pregnancy in marsupials. Reviews of Reproduction 5:6-11.

57. Renfree, M.B. & Shaw, G. (2000) Diapause. Annual Review of Physiology 62:353-375

58. Renfree, M.B. & Blanden, D.R. (2000) Progesterone and oestrogen receptors in the female genital tract throughout pregnancy of the tammar wallaby. J. Reprod. Fert. 119:121-128.

59. Nave, C.D., Shaw, G., Short, R.V. & Renfree, M.B. (2000) The contraceptive effects of levonorgestrel implants in a marsupial. Reprod. Fert. Dev. 12: 81-86.

60. Pask, A.J., Harry, JL., Renfree, M.B., & Graves, J.A.M. (2000) Absence of SOX3 in the developing marsupial gonad is not consistent with a conserved role in mammalian sex determination. Genesis 27:145-152

61. Shaw, G., Renfree, M.B., Leihy, M.W., Shackleton, C H. L, Roitman, E. & Wilson, J.D. (2000) Prostate formation in a marsupial is mediated by the testicular androgen 5a-androstane-3a,17b-diol. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. 97:12256-12259

62. Pask, A., Renfree, M.B. & Graves J.A.M. (2000) The human sex reversing ATRX gene has a homologue on the marsupial Y chromosome; implications for the evolution of mammalian sex determination. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. 97:13198-13202.