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Marine Ecology Research Centre

Dr Kirsten Benkendorff

B.Sc. (Hons 1st class, Mq)
Ph.D. (UoW)

Research Summary

Dr Kirsten Benkendorff Dr Benkendorff's research program is focused on the bioresource value of marine molluscs. She has made significant contributions towards the development of marine molluscs as indicators for assessing human impacts on intertidal reefs. She has developed a suite of assays for assessing disease resistance in molluscs to reduce mortality in aquaculture and predict the effects of global climate change. She is also investigating the development of marine molluscs for human medicine and has identified a promising anticancer agent that is currently undergoing preclinical trials. Dr Benkendorff is the Vice president of the Australasian Malacological Society.


  • 2011 Dorothy Hill Award from the Australian Academy of Science
  • 2008 SA Young Tall Poppy Award, Australian Institute of Policy and Science
  • 2001 N.S.W. Young Australian of the Year Award for the Environment, NSW National Australia Day Council
  • 2000 Young Australian of the Year Award for Science and Technology, National Australia Day Council


Dr Benkendorff has attracted over $3.4mill in research funding. Currently funded projects include:

ARC linkage LP0989354. Enhancing Seagrass Restoration: Improving Hessian Durability in Marine Environments. Quinton, J Benkendorff, K., Clarke, S., Murray-Jones S. and Tanner J

Philanthropic Foundation. Preclinical testing of purified muricid mollusc extract in rodent models for colorectal cancer. Benkendorff, K.

Australian Seafood CRC. Antiviral defence and the abalone ganglioneurtis virus. Benkendorff, K and Speck, P.

Teaching and Supervision

Dr Benkendorff currently teaches into 1st year Biology and is Unit assessor for Ecology in the School of Environmental Science and Management at Southern Cross University. Prior to moving to SCU, she has 7 years teaching experience as a Senior Lecturer at Flinders University, designing and coordinating topics (units) such as Disease and Immunology and Animal Diversity. Dr Benkendorff has successfully supervised 7 PhD students, 2 Masters of Biotechnology and 27 Honours students to completion and currently supervises 6 PhD students and 2 Honours students.

Recent Publications (2007-2011)

Dr Benkendorff has published 51 peer reviewed journal articles and four invited book chapters. H index = 11; total citations = 372 (SCOPUS) (April 2011).


Benkendorff, K, McIver, C. and Abbott, C.A. 2011. Bioactivity of the homeopathic remedy Murex (purpurea) and extracts from an Australian muricid mollusc against human cancer cells. Evidence-based Complimentary and Alternative Medicines. 2011 art no. 879585.

Caddy-Retalic, S., Benkendorff, K., Fairweather, P. 2011. Visualizing hotspots: Applying thermal imaging to monitor tissue temperatures in intertidal gastropods. Molluscan Research. 32 (2): 106-113.

Dang, V., Benkendorff, K. and Speck, P. 2011. In vitro antiviral activity against herpes simplex virus in abalone Haliotis laevigata. Journal of General Virology, 92, 627-637.

Dang, V., Speck, P., Dourdi, M., Smith, B. and Benkendorff, K. 2011. Variation in the antiviral and antibacterial activity of abalone Haliotis laevigata, H. rubra and their hybrid in South Australia. Aquaculture. 315: 242-249.

Dang, V.T. Li, Y, Speck, P and Benkendorff, K. 2011. Effects of micro and macroalgal diet supplementations on growth and immunity of greenlip abalone, Haliotis laevigata. Aquaculture 320: 91-98.

Glavinic, A., Rouse, G., Benkendorff, K. 2011. Ultrastructure of the ovary and oogenesis in Neotrigonia margaritacea (Lamarck, 1804) (Bivalvia, Mollusca). In vertebrate Reproduction and Development. DOI:10.1080/07924259.2011.576151

Hooper C., Day R., Slocombe R., Benkendorff K. and Handlinger J. 2011. Effect of Movement Stress on Immune Function in Farmed Australian Abalone (hybrid Haliotis laevigata and Haliotis rubra). Aquaculture. 315: 348-354.

Li, Y., Benkendorff, K., Qin, J. and Li, X. 2011. Exploring correlations between spawning mediated response and summer mortality in Pacific oyster Crassostrea gigas. In: Oysters: Physiology, Ecological Distribution and Mortality. Ed Qin. J. In Press. Nova publishing.


Benkendorff., K. 2010. Molluscan biological and chemical diversity: Secondary metabolites and medicinal resources produced by marine molluscs. Biological Reviews. 85 (4): 757-775 Doi:10.111/j.1469-185X.2010.00124x This is an A* ranked journal on the ERA with an impact factor of 8.755.

Collier, N., Gardner, M., Adams, M., McMahon, C.R., Benkendorff, K. and Mackay, D. 2010. Contemporary habitat loss reduces genetic diversity in an ecologically specialized butterfly. Journal of Biogeography 37: 1277-1287 doi:10.1111/j.1365-2699.2010.02305.x ERA A.

Li, Y., Qin, J.G., Li, X., and Benkendorff, K. 2010. Assessment of metabolic and immune changes in post-spawning Pacific oyster Crassostrea gigas: identification of a critical period of vulnerability after spawning. Aquaculture Research 41 e155-e165 DOI 10.111/j.1365-2109.2010.02498x ERA C.

Westley, C.B., McIver, C.M., Abbott, C.A., Le Leu, R.K. and Benkendorff, K., 2010. Enhanced acute apoptotic response to azoxymethane-induced DNA damage in rodent colonic epithelium by Tyrian purple precursors: A potential colorectal cancer chemopreventative. Cancer Biology & Therapy 9(5): 371-379. ERA B.

Westley, C. B., Lewis, M.C. and Benkendorff, K. 2010. Histomorphology of the female pallial gonoduct in Dicathais orbita (Neogastropoda: Muricidae): Sperm passage, fertilization and sperm storage potential. Invertebrate Biology 129:138-150 DOI: 10/1111/j.1744-1410.2010.00190.x ERA B.

Westley, C. B., Lewis, M.C. and Benkendorff, K. 2010. Histomorphology of the hypobranchial gland in Dicathais orbita (Gmelin, 1791) (Neogastropoda: Muricidae) Journal of Molluscan Studies 76:186-195 ERA C.


Benkendorff, K. 2009. Aquaculture and the Production of Pharmaceuticals and Nutraceuticals. In New technologies in aquaculture: Improving production efficiency, quality and environmental management. Ed. G. Burnell and G. Allen. Woodhead Publishing, Cambridge, Ch 28 pg 866-891.

Benkendorff, K, McIver, C. and Abbott, C.A. 2009. Bioactivity of the homeopathic remedy Murex (purpurea) and extracts from an Australian muricid mollusc against human cancer cells. Evidence-based Complimentary and Alternative Medicines doi:10.1093/ecam/nep04223. ERA A.

Laffy, P.W., Benkendorff, K., Abbott, C.A. 2009. Trends in molluscan gene sequence similarity: An observation from genes expressed within the hypobranchial gland of Dicathais orbita. The Nautilus. 123: 154-158. ERA C.

Li, Y., Qin, J., Li X. and Benkendorff, K. 2009. Monthly variation of condition index, energy reserves and antibacterial activity in Pacific oysters, Crassostrea gigas, in Stansbury (South Australia) Aquaculture 286: 64-71. ERA A.

Li, Y., Qin, J., Li X. and Benkendorff, K. 2009. Spawning-dependent stress response to food deprivation in Pacific oyster Crassostrea gigas. Aquaculture 286:309-317. ERA A.

Li, Y., Qin, J., Li, X. and Benkendorff K. 2009. Spawning-dependent stress responses in Pacific oysters Crassostrea gigas: a simulated bacterial challenge in oysters. Aquaculture 293: 164-171. ERA A.

Noble, W.J., Cocks, R.R., Harris J.O. and Benkendorff, K. 2009. Application of anesthetics for sex identification and bioactive compound recovery from wild Dicathais orbita. J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 380, 53-60 ERA B.

Westley, C. B., and Benkendorff, K. 2009. The Distribution of precursors and biosynthetic enzymes required for Tyrian purple genesis in the hypobranchial gland, gonoduct and egg masses of Dicathais orbita (Neogastropoda: Muricidae). The Nautilus 123:148-153. ERA C.


Benkendorff, K. and Przeslawski, R. 2008. Multiple measures are necessary to assess rarity in macro-molluscs: a case study from south-eastern Australia. Biodiversity & Conservation 17:2455-2478 ERA B.

Benkendorff, K., Fairweather, P and Dittmann, S. 2008. Intertidal Ecosystems. Ch 10 In Natural History of the Gulf St Vincent. Ed. S. Shepherd, S. Bryars, Kirkegaard, I., Harbison, P. and Jennings J.T. Royal Society of S.A. Adelaide, Australia.

Collier, N, Mackay, D., Benkendorff, K. 2008. Is relative abundance a good predictor of population size?: evidence from fragmented populations of a specialist butterfly (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae). Population Ecology 50: 17-23 ERA B.

Westley, C and Benkendorff, K. 2008. Sex-specific Tyrian purple genesis: precursor and pigment distribution in the reproductive system of the marine mollusc, Dicathais orbita. Journal of Chemical Ecology. 34:44-56. ERA B.

Westley, C. and Benkendorff, K. 2008. Histochemical correlations between egg capsule laminae and the female gonoduct reveal the process of capsule formation in the Muricidae (Neogastropoda: Mollusca). Invertebrate Reproduction and Development. 52: 81-92. ERA C.

Woodcock, S.H. and Benkendorff, K. 2008. The impact of diet in the growth and proximate composition of juvenile whelks, Dicathais orbita (Gastropoda: Mollusca). Aquaculture 276 (1):162-170 ERA A.


Hooper, C., Day, R., Slocombe, R., Handlinger, J. and Benkendorff, K. 2007. Stress and immune responses in abalone: Limitations in current knowledge and investigative methods based on other models. Fish and Shellfish Immunology, 22: 363-379. ERA A, citations = 36.

Li, Y., Qin, J., Abbott, CA, Li X. and Benkendorff, K. 2007. Synergistic impacts of heat shock and spawning on the physiology and immune health of Crassostrea gigas: An explanation for summer mortality in pacific oysters. American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology 293: R2353 - R2362. ERA A, citations = 10.

Lim, N,S-H, Everuss, K., Goodman, A.E. and Benkendorff, K. 2007. Comparison of surface microfouling and bacterial attachment on the egg capsules of two molluscan species, representing the Cephalopoda and Neogastropoda. Aquatic Microbial Ecology 47:275-287. ERA B, citations =5.

Vine, K.L, Locke, J.M, Ranson, M., Benkendorff, K, Pyne S.G. and Bremner, J.B. 2007. In vitro cytotoxicity evaluation of some substituted isatin derivatives. Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry, 15: 931-938. ERA B, citations = 21 (Corrigendum to authorship 15:3951).

Government and Industry Program Reports (2007-2010)

Benkendorff, K. and Thomas, D. 2007. Intertidal reef biodiversity assessment on the Fleurieu Peninsula, S.A. Report for the Department of Environment and Heritage.

Benkendorff, K, Klintock M. and D. 2007. Intertidal reef biodiversity on Kangaroo Island. Oceans of Blue: Coast, Estuarine and Marine Monitoring Program. Kangaroo Island Natural Resources Management Board.

Dutton, A. and Benkendorff, K. 2008. Biodiversity Assessment and Monitoring of the Port Stanvac Intertidal Reef. Report to the Adelaide and Mt Lofty Natural Resource Management Board. S. 59pp.

Benkendorff, K. 2009. Submission to the SA Government Inquiry into Desalination Plants. Interview recorded in the SA Hansard report.

Benkendorff, K. Li, Y. and Harris, J. 2010. Investigation of faint-green phenomenon in green lip abalone (Haliotis laevigata): Feeding experiment. Project report to Southseas Abalone Ltd and Southern Australian Seafoods Pty Ltd.

Barring, R., Stewart, T and Benkendorff, K. 2009. Impact of sand deposition of rocky reefs. Report to the SA EPA.

Stewart, T., Barring, R and Benkendorff, K. 2009. Intertidal baseline surveys for monitoring the Adelaide Desalination Plant. Report to AdelaideAqua.

Glavinic, A., Beattie, K, Benkendorff., K and Dittmann, S. 2009. Infauna baseline surveys for monitoring the Adelaide Desalination Plant. Report to AdelaideAqua.

Roberts, M., Carragher, J. and Benkendorff K. 2009. 2003/242 Rock Lobster Post Harvest Subprogram: Determining flesh quality attributes of under-valued large southern rocklobsters. FRDC Final Report. Fisheries Research and Development Corporation.

Baring, R., Stewart, T and Benkendorff, K. 2010. Adelaide Desalination Plant Preconstruction Intertidal Monitoring Report. Report to AdelaideAqua.

Beattie, K.J, Glavinic, A., Ramsdale, T.M., Dittmann, S. & Benkendorff, K 2010. Adelaide Desalination Plant Preconstruction Infaunal Monitoring Report. Report to AdelaideAqua.

Day. R., Hooper, C., Benkendorff, K., Slocombe R. and Handlinger J. 2010. Investigations on the immunology of stressed abalone. Final report for FRDC project number: 2004/233. Fisheries Research and Development Corporation.