Dr Marina Fortes

Senior Lecturer

School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences
Faculty of Science
m.fortes@uq.edu.au
+61 7 336 54258

Overview

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). Her PhD received the Dean's commendation award. After that, 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”. In August 2014, Marina joined the School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences (SCMB) as an academic and established the Livestock Genomics Group. As a researcher, Marina 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. For her work on the genomics of cow fertility, Marina received an Advanced Queensland Fellowship (2018-2021). As a teacher, Marina created and coordinates the Livestock Biotechnology (BIOT7038) course for the Master of Biotechnology. She also coordinates key aspects of the genetics major: Genomics (BIOL3303) and Mammalian Genetics (BIOC3003, BIOL3222, BIOL2202). The Women in Science podcast - https://soundcloud.com/womeninscience - was produced by Marina Fortes, Marloes Dekker, and Kirsty Short.

Research Interests

  • Beef Cattle Genomics
    In our research, genomics technologies are applied to cattle populations to understand the molecular mechanisms driving production traits and impact on selective breeding.
  • Reproductive Biology
    Understanding bovine reproductive biology, as a model to mammalian organisms, is a key component of our research that can benefit livestock production. Cattle fertility has major implications for the sustainability of the beef and dairy industries.

Research Impacts

The Livestock Genomics Group leads research projects that impact on the sustainability of animal production. The Australian beef industry is our main research partner, and so our projects deliver outcomes to cattle producers. A better understanding of the genomics of livestock informs selective breeding practices. Selective breeding is a proven method to improve livestock efficiency and therefore increase food production while reducing the environmental impact of this vital activity.

Qualifications

  • Doctor of Philosophy, The University of Queensland
  • Bachelor of Veterinary Science, University of São Paulo

Publications

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Supervision

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Available Projects

  • Enteric methane emissions, the rumen microbiome, and cattle metabolism are interconnected topics of interest for livestock sustainability. In this new industry fund project, we will investigate how pregnancy affects the metabolism of cows and may impact their enteric methane emissions. Further, we will collect rumen and saliva samples to study their microbiome. A desirable outcome of this project will be the development of a saliva test for ruminants that can indicate if an animal is a low or a high emitter of methane. A saliva test could become a practical tool for farmers to select and manage their cattle. Students in this project will have the opportunity to engage with all aspects of the research: cattle trials, molecular genetics work in the laboratory, bioinformatics, and data analyses.

  • This project is suitable for Honours or Master students looking to do a literature review and/or write a research proposal about greenhouse gas emissions from beef farming. A variety of beef farming systems co-exist in Australia. The beef industry is interested in understanding which systems are more environmentally sustainable, in terms of greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Global population growth is placing increasing demands on the agriculture sector to produce greater amounts of food more efficiently. Livestock products provide a nutritious source of protein for the world population and more efficient production will be required in the future to meet increasing demand. Breeds and individual cattle and sheep can show substantial differences in response to diet with some animals responding more productively than others. The proposed research program will investigate which parts of the genome likely underpin response to diet in cattle and sheep. Biochemical pathways relevant to the new science of nutrigenomics will be uncovered primarily through investigation of genome-wide gene expression data sets available for metabolically important tissues such as muscle, fat, and liver. Cutting edge bioinformatics tools including the latest approaches from network science will be deployed. This knowledge may help us understand why some animals fare better than others under given nutritional circumstances and perhaps inform decisions regarding diet formulation.

    This project is a collaboration with Dr. Nick Hudson https://researchers.uq.edu.au/researcher/14636

View all Available Projects

Publications

Book Chapter

Journal Article

Conference Publication

Other Outputs

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

    Other advisors:

Completed Supervision

Possible Research Projects

Note for students: The possible research projects listed on this page may not be comprehensive or up to date. Always feel free to contact the staff for more information, and also with your own research ideas.

  • Enteric methane emissions, the rumen microbiome, and cattle metabolism are interconnected topics of interest for livestock sustainability. In this new industry fund project, we will investigate how pregnancy affects the metabolism of cows and may impact their enteric methane emissions. Further, we will collect rumen and saliva samples to study their microbiome. A desirable outcome of this project will be the development of a saliva test for ruminants that can indicate if an animal is a low or a high emitter of methane. A saliva test could become a practical tool for farmers to select and manage their cattle. Students in this project will have the opportunity to engage with all aspects of the research: cattle trials, molecular genetics work in the laboratory, bioinformatics, and data analyses.

  • This project is suitable for Honours or Master students looking to do a literature review and/or write a research proposal about greenhouse gas emissions from beef farming. A variety of beef farming systems co-exist in Australia. The beef industry is interested in understanding which systems are more environmentally sustainable, in terms of greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Global population growth is placing increasing demands on the agriculture sector to produce greater amounts of food more efficiently. Livestock products provide a nutritious source of protein for the world population and more efficient production will be required in the future to meet increasing demand. Breeds and individual cattle and sheep can show substantial differences in response to diet with some animals responding more productively than others. The proposed research program will investigate which parts of the genome likely underpin response to diet in cattle and sheep. Biochemical pathways relevant to the new science of nutrigenomics will be uncovered primarily through investigation of genome-wide gene expression data sets available for metabolically important tissues such as muscle, fat, and liver. Cutting edge bioinformatics tools including the latest approaches from network science will be deployed. This knowledge may help us understand why some animals fare better than others under given nutritional circumstances and perhaps inform decisions regarding diet formulation.

    This project is a collaboration with Dr. Nick Hudson https://researchers.uq.edu.au/researcher/14636