Primary research interest

Genetics and reproductive biology

About me

I have a degree in Veterinary Medicine (2004) and a Master of Science (2007) in Animal Reproduction from the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil. I completed my PhD in 2012 at The University of Queensland (UQ). Myr thesis title was “Genes and Genetic Markers Associated with puberty in beef cattle” and for that I had ongoing support from UQ and the Beef CRC (UQ Research Scholarship, UQ International Research tuition Award and Beef CRC top-up scholarship). After my PhD, I worked as a post-doc at the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation and my main research project was titled “Transcriptome of the Pubertal Brahman Heifer”. On August 2014, I joined the School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences, to lecture in molecular genetics and bioinformatics and to establish a research group. My group is interested in understanding how genetics influence reproductive biology in mammals.

Research focus and collaborations

Livestock Genomics Group

Our Group develops genomic technologies applied to improve genetic gain for complex phenotypes. Beef cattle fertility phenotypes, which are complex and therefore influenced by multiple genes are our main focus. Cattle fertility is a concern and an opportunity for improvement in Queensland's beef sector.

Imagine you have 100 cows, but they only produce 50-60 calves per year. An improved system would be to have 100 cows with higher genetic merit for fertility; which would produce 80 calves per year. Since the number of cows is the same (100) the environmental impact is similar, but more food is produced. In short, we like to think of more beef, less methane.

Current projects in the group use genome-wide technology (i.e. SNP chips and Next Generation Sequencing) to investigate the genetics of female and male cattle fertility. We study puberty, spermatogenesis and fertility indicators such as scrotal circumference or length of post-partum anoestrus. The aim is to further understand reproductive biology and to create tools for genetic improvement towards higher herd fertility, translated into improved weaning rates. 

Collaborative research expands the group activities and interests. Our group collaborates extensively with researchers at QAAFI and CSIRO Agriculture to further develop genomic selection approaches for beef cattle. Current collaborative research also includes genomic approaches to study chicken nutrition and growth. In another collaborative project, the genetics and proteomics associated with Human alcoholism are under investigation.

Funded projects

  • 2019 – Research Project “Bull fertility update: historical data, new cohort and advanced genomics”. Funded by Meat and Livestock Australia.
  • 2018 – Research Project “Female Reproduction Phenobank and Validation Herds”. Funded by Meat and Livestock Australia.
  • 2017 – Advanced QLD Fellowship “Female Reproduction Phenobank and Validation Herds”
  • 2016 -  ECR grant from The University of Queensland. “Contribution of non-coding RNA to DNA structure in sperm and male fertility”.
  • 2015 - Zoetis Inc. Cattle Call Award. “Functional genetic markers for beef cattle reproductive traits” Collaboration between UQ-SCMB and CSIRO, contract signed by Uniquest.
  • 2013 - Research Project “Ideal markers for tropically adapted cattle - proof of concept: causative mutations for bull fertility”. Collaboration between UQ-QAAFI and CSIRO, funded by Meat and Livestock Australia.
  • 2013 - Research Project "Heritability and role of new sperm assays". Funded by Meat and Livestock Australia.
  • 2013 - Research Project "Heritability and genomics of sperm chromatin integrity: male fertility parameters for Bos indicus bulls". UQ Start up grant.
  • 2009 - Research Project "Markers and genes influencing puberty". Funded by Meat and Livestock Australia.

Awards and achievements

  • 2014 - The University of Queensland Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship.
  • 2013 - Dean’s Award for Research Higher Degree Excellence from the University of Queensland.
  • 2012 - Fellowship from the International Stockmen's Educational Foundation.
  • 2010 - Travel Bursary, International Society for Animal Genetics.
  • 2009 - Beef CRC “top up” living allowance scholarship.
  • 2009 - UQRS University of Queensland Research Scholarship.
  • 2009 - UQIRTA University of Queensland International Research Tuition Award

Teaching interests

  • BIOL3222 - Model Organism Genetics
  • BIOL3004 - Genomics and Bioinformatics (great for Biologists)
  • ANIM2503 - Animal Breeding and Molecular Genetics
  • BIOL2202 - Genetics
  • BIOC3003 - Human Molecular Genetics & Disease

Student supervision

If you are interested in Honours or PhD opportunities within the Livestock Genomics Group please contact me.

Featured publications

Researcher biography

Marina Fortes has a degree in Veterinary Medicine (2004) and a Master of Science in Animal Reproduction (2007) from the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil. She completed her PhD in genetics, in 2012 at The University of Queensland (UQ). Her thesis title was "Genes and genetic markers Associated with puberty in beef cattle" and for that, she had prestigious scholarships from UQ and the Beef CRC (UQ Research Scholarship, UQ International Research tuition Award, and Beef CRC top-up scholarship). After her PhD, Marina worked as a post-doc at the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI) and her main research project was titled "Transcriptome of the Pubertal Brahman Heifer". On August 2014, Marina joined the School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences (SCMB), to lecture in genetics and bioinformatics and to establish the Livestock Genomics Group. Her group is interested in understanding how genetics influence livestock production and reproductive biology. Ongoing collaborations link her group to a rich research environment, both domestic and international, which contributes to sustainable livestock industries. Meat and Livestock Australia has provided ongoing support to the projects led by her group.