Miss Tahlia Perry
My current research is bridging together fields of genetics, biochemistry and bioinformatics with ecology, conservation, and citizen science for the sake of one of the world’s oldest surviving mammals - the echidna. My PhD project involves developing molecular tools for echidna conservation and captive breeding, whilst simultaneously gaining novel insights into their unique biology. I am very passionate about conservation, science communication and have enjoyed working with media for radio and television.
The Kangaroo Island echidna population has now been listed as endangered. They face threats such as predation by introduced animals (cats), are common road kill and suffer from habitat fragmentation and degradation. As these threats exist on mainlaind Australia, it is likely that other populations are too in danger – however, as echidnas are very cryptic animals, large population analyses have not been undertaken.
As part of my PhD I have initiated a Citizen Science project called EchidnaCSI. This is an app-based project where the public can submit photos of echidnas they see in the wild so that we can get a better idea of their distribution around Australia. We are also encouraging people to collect their scats and send them to us. The project has been very successful since it’s launch in September 2017 with approximately 1500 people registering through the app and as of December 2017 there have been almost 900 submissions including ~80 scats.
From the scat samples collected through EchidnaCSI I will be testing the DNA and hormones that exists within them. In scats there is an abundance of DNA from the echidna itself, food it’s eaten, bacteria living in its gut and plants from surrounding area so we can investigate areas such as echidna diet, health and population diversity. Echidna scats also have important hormones that can indicate their stress levels and how reproductively active they are. Currently, I am developing these tests with scats collected from captive echidnas at Adelaide Zoo and Perth Zoo. Once these molecular tests are established they can be used to also help the captive populations indicate reproductive activity or stressful situations.
Furthermore I am investigating the fascinating monotreme reproduction and development by identifying genes and pathways that regulate these processes. As the only egg-laying mammals, their unique biology is still much of a mystery. My lab, headed by Professor Frank Grutzner, is world leading for our research on monotreme biology. We have the most extensive tissue collection for both echidnas and platypuses that allow us to investigate such interesting aspects such as reproduction and development that may not only give insights into monotreme biology, but the evolution of our own reproductive system.
|2017 - 2017||Award||Best Poster at BioInfoSummer 2017||AMSI||$400|
|2017||Award||3MT Faculty of Sciences People's Choice Winner||University of Adelaide||$250|
|2017||Award||3MT School of Biological Sciences Winner||University of Adelaide||$250|
|2017||Achievement||Famelab Australia Finalist|
|2016||University of Adelaide||Australia||PhD (Genetics and Evolution)|
|2015 - 2015||University of Adelaide||Australia||Bachelor of Science (Honours)|
|2012 - 2014||University of Adelaide||Australia||Bachelor of Science|
|2017||Perry, T., van Loenen, A., Heiniger, H., Lee, C., Gongora, J., Cooper, A. & Mitchell, K. (2017). Ancient DNA analysis of the extinct North American flat-headed peccary (Platygonus compressus). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 112, 258-267.
|2017||Perry, T. J. (2017). Ancient DNA from the North American flat-headed peccary reveals it’s phylogenetic position and a genetically diverse population prior to extinction. 12th International Mammological Congress. Perth, WA.|
|2017||Perry, T. J. (2017). The use of non-invasive genetic sexing of echidnas from hair and scat samples for captive management and conservation. 12th International Mammological Congress. Perth, WA.|
Nature Conservation Society of South Australia - Conservation Biology Grant
Practical Demonstrator - GENETICS III: Genes, Genomes and Molecular Evolution
Semester 1 2017
Isabella Wilson 2017 - present
Lab Placement Student
Natasha Bradley 2016 - 2017
Genetics Lab Placement and Honours student
|2017 - 2017||Member||School of Biological Sciences Postgraduate Symposium||University of Adelaide||Australia|
|2017 - ongoing||Member||Australian Citizen Science Conference 2018 Organising Committee||University of Adelaide||Australia|
|2016 - ongoing||Treasurer||Adelaide University Biosciences Network||University of Adelaide||Australia|