Bill Breed

Emeritus Professor Bill Breed

Emeritus Professor

Adelaide Medical School

Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences

Emeritus Professor Bill Breed, who retired in February 2015, is a reproductive biologist whose main research interest is in the fertilisation of Australian rodents and marsupials, together with the morphology and evolution of sperm, eggs and egg coats. He has published around 185 papers in morphological, zoological, and reproductive biological journals, including 2 in Nature. In 2007, he and Fred Ford produced a book entitled "Native Mice & Rats", published by the CSIRO in their Australian Natural History series. He has published 20 review articles including one, with Prof. Brian Setchell, on mammalian male reproductive anatomy in the 3rd edition of "Knobil and Neill's Physiology of Reproduction".

Bill was an Editorial Board Member of the journal Reproduction for 6 years, and he wrote, with Ken Aplin, the introductory sections on rodents in the 3rd edition of Mammals of Australia edited by S Van Dyck and R Strahan. He is a past president of the Australian Mammal Society, and a fellow of the Royal Society of South Australia.

Bill has supervised 15 completed PhD, 1 MSc, and 54 Honours student projects. His research projects include studies on co-evolution of sperm and eggs of Australian mammals, and the effects of the arid environment on evolution of reproductive strategies in native rodents. Some of his other studies have included investigations on sperm nuclear chromatin organisation, mammalian testis structural organisation, and the evolution of egg coat glycoproteins. He has two popular articles published on his work - “A Reproductive Riddle” in Australasian Science, April 2012 pp 32-35, and “Australia’s other mammals – the mice and rats” in Wildlife Australia, Winter edition 2014, pp 10-14.


1975-1977             ARC Grant. Determination of environmental factors that regulate breeding in the hopping mouse (Notomys alexis) - $6,153.

1987-1988             ARC Grant. Investigation of the functional significance of ventral hooks on the sperm head of Australian hydromyine rodents (No A18616252) - $20,792-sole chief investigator.

1987-1989             ARC Grant. Determination of factors that influence testis size and sperm numbers in mammals with special reference to Australian rodents (No A18616294) - $31,192-sole chief investigator.

1988-1989             ARC Grant. Genetic linkage in the marsupial Sminthopsis crassicaudata and its evolutionary implications (No A19315806) (with JH Bennett, DL Hayman, RM Hope) - $94,179.

1990-1992             Large ARC Grant: Molecular biological, genetical and reproductive studies with a laboratory colony of the dasyurid marsupial Sminthopsis crassicaudata (No AD8932195) (with JH Bennett, DL Hayman, RM Hope) - $208,551.

1992-1994             Large ARC Grant: Gamete and embryo preservation and transfer in the dasyurid marsupial Sminthopsis crassicaudata (No A09132094) -sole chief investigator-$105,300.

1994        Small ARC Grant: Sperm and egg interaction and fertilization in a marsupial Sminthopsis crassicaudata. - $10,000.

1995-1997             Large ARC Grant: Sperm and egg interaction and fertilisation in marsupials with special reference to Sminthopsis (A O 9531923) -sole chief investigator-$153,175.

1996        Small ARC Grant: Australasian and Asian murid rodents: the historical and evolutionary inter-relationships. (with S Donnellan & K Aplin) - $9,000.

1996        Small ARC Grant: Inter-relationships between mother and foetus of marsupials with special reference to Sminthopsis crassicaudata. (with C Roberts) - $9,000.

1998-2000  Large ARC Grant: Studies of extratesticular sperm maturation and sperm-egg interactions in marsupials -sole chief investigator- $156,000.

1998-1999   Small ARC Grant: An Investigation into the zona pellucida genes and their products in marsupials (with RM Hope) - $20,000.

1998-1999   Small ARC Grant: Factors determining testis size and sperm production rates in two species of native Australian rodents (with EJ Peirce & S Maddocks) - $20,000

2000-2001         Small ARC Grant: A Study of the Structural Organisation of the Extracellular Coat that surrounds the Egg of Marsupials. (with RM Hope & O Wiebkin) - $20,000.

2002-2004 Large ARC SPIRT Grant (with DA Taggart) - $150,000.

2002          Small ARC Grant (with RM Hope & O Wiebkin) – $9,086.

2003          Large ARC Discovery Grant (with L Selwood) - $60,000.


TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF ADELAIDE. Lectured in following courses -

Bachelor of Science Degree

  • 1973-1980         General Cytology III
  • 1981-1987         Human and Comparative Morphology III
  • 1973-2014         Comparative Reproductive Biology of Mammals III (formerly Reproductive Biology III)
  • 1973-2014         Cells and Tissues II (formerly Histology II)
  • 1988-1996         Comparative Morphology II
  • 1997-2014         Functional and Comparative Anatomy II


  • 1973-1996         Anatomy II MB and Human Structure and Function II
  • 1973-1978         Introductory Anatomy
  • 1997-2000         Tutored in Human structure and function II (reproduction and sexuality)
  • 2002-2005         Presentation of Resource Cases
  • 2010-2014         Embryology

Bachelor of Health Science Degree

  • 1990-1997         Human Biology I
  • 1995-1996         Human Biology II
  • 1997-2001         Histology and Embryology II
  • 2000-2014         Cells, Tissues, and Development II

Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy Degree

  • 1973-1999         Anatomy I

Graduate Certificate of Science Education

  • 1992-1997
  • Position: Emeritus Professor
  • Phone: 83135743
  • Email:
  • Fax: 8313 4398
  • Campus: North Terrace
  • Building: Oliphant, floor 3
  • Room: 3 16
  • Org Unit: School of Biological Sciences

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