Bill Breed

Bill Breed

School of Biomedicine

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.

  • Appointments

    Date Position Institution name
    2017 - 2020 Adjunct Professor University of Adelaide
    2015 - ongoing Emeritus Professor University of Adelaide
    2012 - 2015 Professor University of Adelaide
    1994 - 2012 Associate Professor University of Adelaide
    1977 - 1994 Senior Lecturer Univeristy of Adelaide
    1974 - 1977 Lecturer University of Adelaide
  • Education

    Date Institution name Country Title
    1965 - 1968 University of Oxford United Kingdom D Phil
    1961 - 1964 University of Aberdeen United Kingdom BSc (Hons)
  • Research Interests


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
  • Past Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2008 - 2013 Co-Supervisor Oxalate nephrosis in a population of South Australian koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus) Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Dr Natasha Speight
    2007 - 2015 Co-Supervisor Direct and indirect effects of whole body heat exposure on germ cells and spermatozoa. Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Mrs Harsha Wechalekar
    2007 - 2016 Principal Supervisor The occurrence, relative abundance and environmental associations of small terrestrial mammals in the Northern Kimberley, Western Australia Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Liberty Olds
    2005 - 2010 Co-Supervisor The Effect of Habitat Fragmentation and Population Isolation on the Genetic Diversity, Reproductive Status and Population Viability of the Southern Hairy-Nosed Wombat (Lasiorhinus latifrons) in South Australia Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Ms Elisa Sparrow
    2002 - 2007 Principal Supervisor Molecular Evolution of the Carboxy Terminal, the Putative Sperm-ZP Binding Site, of the Zona Pellucida 3 Glycoprotein in Old World Murine Rodents Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Ms Christine Swann
    2002 - 2008 Principal Supervisor Testis Size, Sperm Pleiomorphism and Extra-Testicular Sperm Maturation in the Spinifex Hopping Mouse, Notomys alexis Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Ms Melissa Bauer
    1999 - 2010 Co-Supervisor The Life History and Stock Assessment of Anchovy, Engraulis Australia, in South Australia Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Mr Wetjens Dimmlich
    1998 - 2003 Principal Supervisor The Marsupial Zona Pellucida: Its Structure and Glycoconjugate Content Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Dr Jamie Chapman
    1998 - 2004 Principal Supervisor The Marsupial Sperm Tail Cytoskeleton: A Morphological and Biochemical Study Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Prof Mario Ricci
  • Other Supervision Activities

    Date Role Research Topic Location Program Supervision Type Student Load Student Name
    1992 - 1996 Principal Supervisor Structural and Functional Aspects of the Marsupial Spermatozoon University of Adelaide - Doctorate - Lilian Soon
    1991 - 1995 Principal Supervisor Implantation and placentation in the dasyurid marsupial, Sminthopsis crassicaudata University of Adelaide - Doctorate - Claire Roberts
    1983 - 1999 Principal Supervisor A Comparative study of germ cell production in two species of native Australian Rodents University of Adelaide - Doctorate - Eleanor Peirce
    1982 - 1986 Principal Supervisor Structural and functional aspects of sperm head morphology in the plains mouse Pseudomys australis University of Adelaide - Doctorate - Sean Flaherty
  • Memberships

    Date Role Membership Country
    2005 - ongoing - • Royal Zoological Society of South Australia -
    2003 - ongoing Member • American Association for the Advancement of Science United States
    1990 - ongoing Member • American Society of Mammalogists United States
    1982 - ongoing Member • Royal Society of South Australia Australia
    1980 - ongoing - • Australian Mammal Society (Elected President 1997 – 2000; Hon. Life Member 2010). -
    1980 - ongoing - • Society for Reproductive Biology (Member of Conference Organising Committee 1994-1996; Life Member 2015) -
    1966 - ongoing - • Society of Reproduction and Fertility United Kingdom

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