Natasha Speight

Dr Natasha Speight

Lecturer

School of Animal and Veterinary Science

Faculty of Sciences

Eligible to supervise Masters and PhD - email supervisor to discuss availability.


Dr Natasha Speight is a lecturer at the School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences and is a registered veterinarian. Her current research focuses on the biology, health and diseases of South Australian populations of koalas, particularly oxalate nephrosis.

My research focuses on the health and diseases of koalas, particularly oxalate nephrosis, Chlamydia and retrovirus.

Oxalate nephrosis, a disease in which calcium oxalate crystals are deposited in the kidneys leading to renal dysfunction (Speight et al, 2013;2014), affects many koalas in the Mount Lofty Ranges population of South Australia. Oxalate nephrosis may have an underlying genetic cause, as well as involve other factors including dietary oxalate (Speight et al, 2013), climate (Speight et al, 2018) and gut bacteria (Speight et al, 2019). Understanding the cause and risk factors of this disease will assist with diagnosis and management of affected koalas.

Chlamydial disease in koalas is devastating populations of koalas on the east coast of Australia. Our research has shown that Chlamydial infection is common in koalas in the Mount Lofty Ranges of South Australia, but causes little disease in these koalas (Speight et al, 2016; Fabijan et al, 2019a). Kangaroo Island koalas have been shown to be Chlamydia pecorum- free, making them a large isolated population of negative koalas (Fabijan et al, 2019a). Understanding more about the infection patterns of Chlamydia in southern koalas will assist with managing this infectious threat to koalas.

Koala retrovirus infects 100% koalas in the eastern states, where it has been shown to be endogenous. In South Australia, koalas have a lower prevalence of retrovirus infection (Fabijan et al, 2019b), and research is continuing to understand its impact in southern koalas, which is based on complex factors such as variant and infection load (Sarker et al, 2019). Koala retrovirus has been associated with the development of lymphoid cancers and may increase the likelihood of Chlamydial infection, so it is important to understand the transmission and disease risk of this infection in SA koalas.

This research on the diseases of koalas will help with their conservation and management into the future.

Morris Animal Foundation, USA: Prevalence studies of Chlamydia and retrovirus in SA koalas

Nature Foundation SA: Oxalate nephrosis in koalas

Holsworth Wildlife Research Endowment: Oxalate nephrosis in koalas

Veterinary Anatomy and Physiology II

Veterinary Anatomy and Physiology III

Anatomy for Veterinary Technologists

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  • Memberships

    Date Role Membership Country
    2008 - ongoing Member Wildlife Disease Association Australia
    2008 - ongoing Member Australian Mammal Society Australia
  • Position: Lecturer
  • Phone: 83130655
  • Email: natasha.speight@adelaide.edu.au
  • Fax: 8313 7956
  • Campus: Roseworthy
  • Building: Corridor Block, floor G
  • Room: G 02
  • Org Unit: School of Animal and Veterinary Science

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