Dr Natasha Speight

Dr Natasha Speight
 Position Lecturer
 Org Unit School of Animal and Veterinary Science
 Email natasha.speight@adelaide.edu.au
 Telephone +61 8 8313 0655
 Location Floor/Room G 02 ,  Corridor Block ,   Roseworthy
  • Qualifications

    PhD entitled "Oxalate nephrosis in a population of South Australian koalas", University of Adelaide, SA

    Honours degree, Reproductive biology unit, University of Adelaide, SA

    Bachelor of Science (Veterinary Biology)/ Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine & Surgery, Murdoch University, WA


  • Research Interests

    My research focusses on a disease called oxalate nephrosis in the koala population of the Mt Lofty Ranges, South Australia. Oxalate nephrosis is characterised by the precipitation of calcium oxalate in the kidneys, causing affected koalas to become ill due to kidney dysfunction. The main aims of my research have been to describe the renal histopathology and clinical biochemical abnormalities of the disease, and to determine the potential cause(s) of oxalate nephrosis in this koala population. Dietary oxalate in eucalypt leaves has been tested in several local species and found to be low overall, and therefore unlikely to be the primary cause of oxalate nephrosis in koalas. An inherited abnormality of oxalate metabolism is the most likely cause but has not yet been able to be proven. It is also possible that climatic factors, such as the hot, dry summer that occurs in South Australia, contribute to the severity of this disease in SA koalas.

    Other current research interests include morphology and histology; gastrointestinal microbiome and nutrition of koalas; health threats and infectious diseases affecting South Australian koalas such as Chlamydia, koala retrovirus and others.

  • Publications

    1. Olagoke O, Miller D, Hemmatzadeh F, Stephenson T, Fabijan J, Hutt P, Finch S, Speight N, Timms P (in press) Induction of neutralizing antibody response against koala retrovirus (KoRV) and reduction in viral load in koalas following vaccination with recombinant KoRV envelope protein. npj Vaccines. Accepted 26th April 2018.

    2. Speight KN, Colella D, Boardman W, Taggart DA, Haynes JI and Breed WG (in press) Seasonal variation in occurrence of oxalate nephrosis in South Australian koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus). Australian Mammalogy. Accepted 4th April 2018.

    3. Speight KN, Hicks P, Graham C, Boardman W, Breed WG, Manthorpe E, Funnell O & Woolford L (in press) Necropsy findings of koalas from the Mount Lofty Ranges population in South Australia. Australian Veterinary Journal Accepted 22 Aug 2017.

    4. Sarker N, Fabijan J, Emes RD, Hemmatzadeh, Meers J, Moreton J, Owen H, Seddon JM, Simmons G, Speight N, Trott D, Woolford L and Tarlinton RE (2018) Identification of stable reference genes for quantitative PCR in koalas. Scientific Reports, 20;8(1):3364. Impact factor 4.3.

    5. Fabijan J, Woolford L, Lathe S, Simmons G, Hemmatzadeh F, Trott D and Speight KN. (2017) Koala retrovirus, lymphosarcoma and reproductive chlamydiosis in a South Australian female koala (Phascolarctos cinereus). Journal of Comparative Pathology, 157:188-192.

    6. Speight, KN, Whiteley, PL, Woolford, L, Duignan, PJ, Bacci, B, Lathe, S, Boardman, W, Scheelings, TF, Funnell, O, Underwood, G, Stevenson, MA (2017) Outbreaks of sarcoptic mange in free-ranging koala populations in Victoria and South Australia: a case series. Australian Veterinary Journal, 95: 244-249.

    7. Speight KN, Polkinghorne A, Penn R, Boardman W, Timms P, Fraser T, Johnson K, Faull R, Bate S and Woolford L (2016) The prevalence and pathological features of Chlamydia pecorum infections in South Australian koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus). Journal of Wildlife Diseases, 52: 301-306.

    8. Jelocnik M, Bachmann NL, Kaltenboeck B, Waugh C, Woolford L, Speight KN, Gillett A, Higgins D, Flanagan C, Myers GS, Timms P and Polkinghorne A. (2015). Genetic diversity in the plasticity zone and the presence of the chlamydial plasmid differentiates Chlamydia pecorum strains from pigs, sheep, cattle, and koalas. BMC Genomics, 16: 893-907. 9 citations. Impact factor 3.7.

    9. Speight KN, Kokkinn MJ and Breed WG (2015) The gastrointestinal tract of the Australian water rat (Hydromys chrysogaster)- its morphological adaptations to a carnivorous diet. Australian Mammalogy, 38: 52-57.

    10. Graham C, Woolford L, Johnson L, Speight KN. (2015) Age-dependent changes in gross and histological morphology of the thyroid gland in South Australian koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus). Australian Journal of Zoology, 62: 360-365.

    11. Speight KN, Haynes JI, Boardman W, Breed WG, Taggart D, Rich B and Woolford L. (2014). Plasma biochemistry and urinalysis variables of koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus) with and without oxalate nephrosis. Veterinary Clinical Pathology 43: 244-254.

    12. Speight KN, Haynes JI, Boardman W, Breed WG, Taggart D, Leigh C and Rich B. (2013) Leaf oxalate content of Eucalyptus spp. and its implications for koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus) with oxalate nephrosis. Australian Journal of Zoology, 61(5): 366-371.

    13. Breed WG, Leigh C and Speight N. (2013) Coevolution of the male and female reproductive tract in an old endemic murine rodent of Australia. Journal of Zoology, 289: 94-100. 8 citations. Impact factor 2.2.

    14. Speight KN, Boardman W, Breed WG, Taggart DA, Woolford L and Haynes JI. (2013) Pathological features of oxalate nephrosis in a population of koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus) in South Australia. Veterinary Pathology 50: 299-307. 12 citations.

  • Professional Associations

    Veterinary Surgeon's Board of South Australia (registered veterinarian)

    Wildlife Disease Association (Australasian section)

    South Australian Veterinary Emergency Management

    Australian Mammal Society

    Australian Centre for Evolutionary Biology & Biodiversity

    South Australian Wildlife Health Network

    Australian Wildlife Management Society


The information in this directory is provided to support the academic, administrative and business activities of the University of Adelaide. To facilitate these activities, entries in the University Phone Directory are not limited to University employees. The use of information provided here for any other purpose, including the sending of unsolicited commercial material via email or any other electronic format, is strictly prohibited. The University reserves the right to recover all costs incurred in the event of breach of this policy.

Entry last updated: Tuesday, 10 Jul 2018

To link to this page, please use the following URL:  https://www.adelaide.edu.au/directory/natasha.speight