Staff profile

Dr Jan Strugnell

Senior Lecturer

Faculty of Science, Technology and Engineering
School of Molecular Sciences
Department of Genetics
La Trobe Institute for Molecular Science

Melbourne (Bundoora)


D. Phil, Oxford University (Rhodes Scholarship), BSC Honours, James Cook University, BSc, James Cook University

Membership of professional associations

Genetics Society of Australasia, Australian Marine Science Association, Malacological Society of Australasia

Area of study

Agricultural Sciences
Environmental Management and Ecology
Environmental Science
Wildlife and Conservation Biology

Brief profile

Research areas:

Stress transcriptomics: development of tests to reduce the incidence of summer mortality in abalone

Abalone are a high value shellfish and their export is worth over AU$200 million per year to the Australian economy. Mass mortality of farmed abalone during the summer, termed summer mortalities, has been frequently reported in Australia in recent years. This disease is related to increased stress in animals due to high water temperatures and it is likely to become more widespread with predicted rising water temperatures.  This ARC funded research will investigate the molecular basis of stress and disease in abalone and the genetic mechanisms used to fight them. The results will allow the development of early warning tests of stress and stress resilience resulting in production and economic benefits to the Australian abalone aquaculture industry.

Evolution in Antarctica

Jan's research investigates the molecular evolution of Antarctic, Southern Ocean and deep-sea taxa in the context of past climate and geological change (eg continental break up, glacial maxima).  She is investigating both species level and population level molecular evolution and in particular is interested in determining and understanding patterns of divergence, diversification and dispersal.

Molluscan Evolution

Jan is interested in the molecular evolution of molluscs, particularly cephalopods (octopus, squids and cuttlefishes) and pteropods (sea butterflies and sea angels) worldwide. Her research uses biogeographical and fossil information to estimate divergence times and phylogenetic relationships in molluscs to help elucidate their evolutionary history.

Toxicity in Cephalopods

Octopuses, squids and cuttlefishes (cephalopods) are extremely efficient top-level predators. Many, particularly octopuses, use salivary toxins to paralyse prey. Others deploy defensive toxins and advertise these using dramatic warning colours. With collaborators from Museum Victoria  Jan is investigating the expression, evolution and complexity of toxins amongst major cephalopod groups.

Honours, post graduate and post-doctoral research projects in any of these areas are available.

Research interests

Fisheries and aquaculture: improvements through genomics

- Please contact me to discuss a topic.

Population Genetics and Phylogenetics

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Systematics and evolutionary biology

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Teaching units

GEN3EEG Ecological and Evolutionary Genetics

GEN2EEG Ecological and Evolutionary Genetics

Recent publications

Chapters in books

Strugnell, J.M. & Allcock A.L. (2013) Southern Ocean evolution in a global context: A molecular viewpoint.  Chapter 3.  In: Adaptation and Evolution in Marine Environments, Volume 2.  From Pole to Pole.  eds.  C. Verde & G. di Prisco.  pp 35-53.

Strugnell, J. & Allcock, A.L. (2008) Scaphopoda. In: The timetree of life. Eds. S.B. Hedges, S. Kumar. Oxford University Press. pp 239-241. 

Strugnell, J., Allcock, A.L. & Lindgren, A. (2008) Cephalopoda. In: The timetree of life. Eds. S.B. Hedges, S. Kumar. Oxford University Press. pp. 242-246

Fortey, R., Jackson, J. & Strugnell, J. (2003) Phylogenetic fuses and evolutionary 'explosions': conflicting evidence and critical tests. In. Telling the Evolutionary Time: Molecular clocks and the fossil record, eds. P. Donoghue and P. Smith., Taylor and Francis. pp 41-65.

Papers in refereed journals

Strugnell, J.M., Norman, M.D., Vecchione, M., Guzik, M., Allcock, A.L. (2013) The ink sac clouds octopod evolutionary history. Hydrobiologia. DOI 10.1007/s10750-013-1517-6

Winkelmann, I., Campos, P.F., Strugnell, J., Cherel, Y., Smith, P.J., Kubodera, T., Allcock, L., Kampmann, M.-L., Schroeder, H., Guerra, A., Norman, M., Finn, J., Ingrao, D., Clarke, M., Gilbert, M.T.P. (2013) Mitochondrial genome diversity and population structure of the giant squid Architeuthis: genetics sheds new light on one of the most enigmatic marine species. Proceedings of the Royal Society London B 280: 20130273.

Robinson, N., Smith, B., Cooke, I. & Strugnell, J. (2013) A snail's pace:  A preliminary analysis of the effects of stress and genetics on movement of Haliotis.  Aquaculture.  376-379:  25-35.

Allcock, A.L. & Strugnell, J.M. (2012) Southern Ocean diversity: new paradigms from molecular ecology.  Trends in Ecology and Evolution. DOI:10.1016/j.tree.2012.05.009 

Strugnell, J.M., Watts, P.C., Smith, P.J. & Allcock, A.L. (2012) Persistent genetic signatures of historic climatic events in an Antarctic octopus. Molecular Ecology. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2012.05572.x

Dettai, A., Adamowizc, S.J., Allcock, L., Arango, C.P., Barnes, D.K.A, Barratt, I., Chenuil, A., Couloux, A., Cruaud, C., David , B., Denis, F., Denys, G., Dıaz, A., Eleaume, M., Feral, J.P. Froger, A., Gallut, C., Grant, R., Griffiths, H.J., Held, C., Hemery, L.G., Hosie, G., Kuklinski, P., Lecointre, G., Linse, K., Lozouet, P., Mah, C., Monniot, F., Norman, M.D., O'Hara T., Ozouf-Costaz C., Piedallu C., Pierrat B., Poulin E., Puillandre, N., Riddle, M., Samadi, S., Saucede, T., Schubart, C., Smith, P.J., Stevens, D.W., Steinke, D., Strugnell, J.M., Tarnowska K., Wadley, V. & Ameziane, A. (2011) DNA barcoding and molecular systematics of the benthic and demersal organisms of the CEAMARC survey. Polar Science 5: 298-312.

Strugnell, J., Cherel, Y., Cooke, I.R., Gleadall, I.G., Hochberg, F.G., Ibáñez, C.M., Jorgensen, E., Laptikhovsky, V.V., Linse, K., Norman, M., Vecchione, M., Voight, J.R. & Allcock, A.L. (2011) The Southern Ocean: Source and sink? Deep-Sea Research II 58: 196-204.

Allcock, A.L., Barratt, I., Eléaume, M., Linse, K., Norman, M.D., Smith, P.J., Steinke, D., Stevens, D.W. & Strugnell, J.M. (2011) Cryptic speciation and the circumpolarity debate: a case study on endemic Southern Ocean octopuses using the coxI barcode of life. Deep-Sea Research II 58: 242-248. 

Allcock, A.L., Cooke, I.R., & Strugnell, J.M. (2011) What can the mitochondrial genome reveal about higher-level phylogeny of the molluscan class Cephalopoda? Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 161: 573-586. 

Hunt, B*., Strugnell, J*., Bednarsek, N., Linse, K., Nelson, R.J., Pakhomov, E., Seibel, B.J., Steinke, D. & Würzberg, L. (2010) Poles Apart: The "Bipolar" Pteropod Species Limacina helicina is Genetically Distinct Between the Arctic and Antarctic Oceans. PLoS One 5(3): e9835. * = equal contribution 

Strugnell, J. & Allcock, A.L. (2010) Co-estimation of phylogeny and divergence times of Argonautoidea using relaxed phylogenetics.  Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 54: 701-708 

Jorgensen, E.M., Strugnell, J.M. & Allcock, A.L. (2010) Description and phylogenetic relationships of a new genus of octopus, Sasakiopus (Cephalopoda: Octopodidae), from the Bering Sea, with a redescription of Sasakiopus salebrosus (Sasaki, 1920) nov. comb. Journal of Molluscan Studies 76: 57-66.

Donovan, D.T. & Strugnell, J.M. (2010) A redescription of the fossil coleoid cephalopod genus Palaeololigo Naef, 1921 (Decapodiformes: Palaeololiginidae) and its relationship to Recent squids. Journal of Natural History 44(23) 1475-1492.

Collins, M.A., Laptikovsky, V. & Strugnell, J.M. (2010) Expanded description of Opisthoteuthis hardyi based on new species from the Patagonian slope. Journal of the Marine Biological Association. U.K. 90: 605-611.

Strugnell, J., Allcock, A.L. & Watts, P.C. (2009). A panel of microsatellite loci from two species of octopus, Pareledone turqueti (Joubin, 1905) and Pareledone charcoti (Joubin, 1905).  Molecular Ecology Resources 9(4): 1239-1242. (cover)

Strugnell, J., Allcock, A.L. & Watts, P.C. (2009). Microsatellite loci from the endemic Southern Ocean octopus Adelieledone polymorpha (Robson, 1930). Molecular Ecology Resources 9(3): 1068-1070.

Strugnell, J., Voight, J.R., Collins, P.C. & Allcock, A.L. (2009) Molecular phylogenetic analysis of a known and a new hydrothermal vent octopod: their relationship with the genus Benthoctopus (Cephalopoda: Octopodidae). Zootaxa 2096: 442-459.

Strugnell, J., Rogers, A.D., Prodöhl, P.A., Collins, M.A. & Allcock, A.L. (2008) The thermohaline expressway: the Southern Ocean as a centre of origin for deep-sea octopuses. Cladistics 24: 853-860. 

Vecchione, M., Allcock, L., Piatkowski, U. & Strugnell, J. (2008) Benthoctopus rigbyae n. sp., a new species of cephalopod (Octopoda; Incirrata) from near the Antarctic Peninsula. Malacologia 51(1): 13-28.

Allcock, A.L., Strugnell J., & Johnson, M (2008) How useful are the recommended counts and indices in the systematics of the Octopodidae? (Mollusca: Cephalopoda). Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 95: 205-218.

Strugnell, J., Allcock, A., & Collins, M.A. (2008)  Molecular evolutionary relationships of the octopodid genus Thaumeledone (Cephalopoda: Octopodidae) from the Southern Ocean. Antarctic Science 20(3): 245-251

Strugnell, J., Nishiguchi, M. (2007) Molecular phylogeny of coleoid cephalopods (Mollusca: Cephalopoda) inferred from three mitochondrial and six nuclear loci: a comparison of alignment and analysis methods. Journal of Molluscan Studies 73: 399-410.

Strugnell, J., & Lindgren, A. (2007) A barcode of life database for the Cephalopoda?  Considerations and concerns. Reviews in fish biology and fisheries 17: 337-344. 

Allcock, A., Strugnell, J.,  Prodöhl, P., Piatkowski, U. & Vecchione, M. (2007) A new species of Pareledone (Cephalopoda: Octopodidae) from the Antarctic Peninsula. Polar Biology 30(7): 883-893.

Allcock, A.L., Strugnell, J., Ruggiero, H., Collins, M. (2006) Redescription of the deep-sea octopod Benthoctopus normani (Massy 1907) and description of a new species from the North East Atlantic. Marine Biology Research 2(6): 372-387.

Strugnell J., Norman M. (2006) DNA from beach-washed shells of the Ram's Horn squid (Spirula spirula) (Linnaeus 1758) Bulletin of Marine Science 78(2):389-391.

Strugnell J., Jackson, J., Drummond A.J. & Cooper, A. (2006) Divergence time estimates for major cephalopod groups: evidence from multiple genes. Cladistics 22: 89-96.

Strugnell J., Norman M., Jackson J., Drummond A.J. & Cooper A. (2005) Molecular phylogeny of coleoid cephalopods (Mollusca: Cephalopoda) using a multigene approach; the effect of data partitioning on resolving phylogenies in a Bayesian framework. Molecular Phylogenetics & Evolution 37(2): 426-441.

Strugnell, J. Norman, M., Drummond, A. & Cooper, A. (2004) The octopuses that never came back to earth: neoteny and pelagic octopuses.  Current Biology 14: R300-R301.

Strugnell, J. & Southgate, P. (2003) Changes in tissue composition during larval development of the blacklip pearl oyster, Pinctada margaritifera (L.).  Molluscan Research  23(2): 179-183. 

Hall, M.R., Mastro, R., Young, N., Fraser, C.A., Strugnell, J. & Kenway, M.J. (2003) High quality eggs and nauplii for the Australian prawn industry.  FRDC 1995/166.  Fisheries research and development corporation 142 p.