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Wildlife Genomics Group

Conservation of our wildlife
The Australasian Wildlife Genomics Group studies the molecular genetics and evolution of gene families and genomes of our native wildlife.
The members of the Australian Wildlife Genomics Group

From left: Ying Zhu, Alicia Jones, Thea Wilson, Parice Brandies, Kate Farquharson, Belinda Wright, Emma Peel, Caitlin Morrison, Yuanyuan Cheng (front) Rowena Chong, Kathy Belov, Carolyn Hogg, Elspeth McLennan

Our aims

Under the leadership of Professor Kathy Belov, the Australasian Wildlife Genomics Group studies the molecular genetics and evolution of gene families and genomes of our native wildlife. We are particularly interested in the immune system, evolutionary conservation genetics and applications for conservation management.

We are supported by the Australian Research Council, the Save the Tasmanian Devil Appeal and San Diego Zoo Global.

Our online resource for data access is currently unavailable, requests for data access can be made to

Our research

  • Comparative Genomics
  • Immunogenetics
  • Molecular Evolution
  • Applied Evolutionary Genetics
  • Conservation Genetics
  • Population Management

Save the Tasmanian Devil Partners – some of the field teams

The Devil Tools and Tech Project

Working closely with the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program we are studying the immunogenetics of Tasmanian devil facial tumour disease (DFTD), the evolutionary genetics of Tasmanian devils and DFTD, and how to better manage the insurance metapopulation and devils in the wild. DFTD has led to the loss of over 80% of devils, yet populations are persisting in wild. These wild populations are now susceptible to small population pressures, which may lead to the extinction of the species in the wild. Learn more.

Marsupial Genomics

By discovering novel antimicrobial genes in the genomes of our native species we aim to tackle a global challenge: the emergence of antimicrobial resistance. Rapid gene duplication and evolution of antimicrobial peptide genes in marsupials provide protection for joeys that are immunologically naïve in the pouch. We are characterising immune genes in 10 marsupial species and using genomic information to improve the long-term conservation of our endangered native species. Federica Di-Palma from the Earlham Institute is a collaborator on this project.

Image: Rosemary Gales

Integrating Molecular Genetics into Conservation Management

Together with the a number of recovery groups we are working with some of Australia’s most endangered species (such as the orange-bellied parrot, plains wanderer, handfish) to integrate the use of molecular genetics into conservation management and species recovery programs.

The Koala Genome Team

The Koala Genome Project

Together with other members of the Koala Genome Consortium, we have characterised the immune gene and examined the evolution of the P450 genes in one of Australia’s most iconic species, the koala. We work closely with Peter Timms and Adam Polkinghorne from the University of the Sunshine Coast to study the role of genetics in susceptibility of koalas to chlamydia, and with Jamie Ivy from San Diego zoo to study mate choice in koalas.

Our people


For information about opportunities to study or collaborate with us, please contact Dr Carolyn Hogg on

Carolyn Hogg

Research Manager
  • R.M.C. Gunn B19

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Getting to the guts of Tasmanian devil health

In the field with... Rowena Chong

PhD student Rowena Chong has had a lifelong love of wildlife, but it is the Tasmanian devil that captured her heart. She is researching the devils gut flora to better understand their overall health and improve future conservation efforts.