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Southern Cross Plant Science

Dr Mervyn Shepherd

Merv Shepherd

Research Fellow

t: +61 2 6620 3412
f: +61 2 6622 2080

Assoc.Dip in Rur.Tech, (Queensland Agricultural College)
BSc (1st Hons) Botany (University of Queensland)
PhD Botany (University of Queensland)

Research interests/background

Dr Shepherd's research interests are in the application of molecular genetics to forest species to support improvement or management of forest resources.

Current research projects include genetic mapping and marker-trait cosegregation analysis of vegetative propagation characters in Corymbia (formerly Eucalyptus) hybrids, population structure and diversity of in the spotted gums, gene pool management and risk assessment in Corymbia spp., and to study molecular variation in genes involved in lignin biosynthesis.

A focus of Dr Shepherd's work over the past 13 years has been the use of species' hybrids to elucidate the genetic architecture of traits of interest to forestry and as a system to study genome organisation and evolution.

Other activities

  • Invited paper to Eucalypt Comparative Genomics workshop at the International Botanical Conference, Melbourne, July 2011
  • Invited workshop facilitator, Faculty of Science and Technology, University of Kebangsaan, Malaysia, Nov 2004
  • Invited workshop facilitator at Conifer microsatellite Workshop, Institute of Plant Genomics, Texas A&M University, 2001
  • 2009- Member of scientific committee for Australian Forest Genetics Conference Perth April 2009
  • 2007- Present Southern Cross University's Education representative for the CRC for Forestry
  • 2000- Present Member of Southern Cross University's Institutional Biosafety Committee.

Research grants awarded in past 5 years

  • 2007 Internal, University funded, Graduate Research College grant for MSc Student $10,000AUD



Book Chapters

  • Raymond, C. A., M. Henson, et al. (2009). Quantitative and molecular genetic control of wood properties and chemistry in Eucalyptus pilularis. Proc. University of Canterbury, Wood Technology Research Centre Workshop "Revisiting Eucalypts 2009". L. Apiolaza, S. Chauhan and J. C. F. Walker, February 12, 2009, Christchurch, New Zealand: 13-28.
  • Shepherd, M., M. Dieters, et al. (2009). Genetic control and architecture of adventitious rooting in forest trees. Adventitious root formation of forest trees and horticultural woody plants - from genes to applications. K. Niemi.
  • Shepherd, M. and M. Jones (2004). Molecular Markers in Tree Improvement: Characterisation and Use in Eucalyptus. Molecular Marker Systems in Plant Breeding and Crop Improvement. H. Lorz and G. Wenzel. Heidelberg, Springer-Verlag. 55: 399-409.


  • Abasolo M, Lee DJ, Raymond C, Brooks L, Shepherd M (2014) "Genetics of flowering in spotted gum, Corymbia citriodora subspecies variegata and C. maculata." Australian Journal of Botany accepted (17 Feb 2014).
  • Abasolo M, Lee D, Shepherd M (2012) "Identification of intersectional Corymbia hybrids based on seedling morphology improves with paternal divergence." Forest Ecology and Management 279 189-202.
  • Abasolo M, Lee DJ, Raymond C, Medar R, Shepherd M (2013) "Deviant near-infrared spectra identifies Corymbia hybrids." Forest Ecology and Management 304, 121-131.
  • Eliott F, Connelly C, Rossetto M, Shepherd M, Rice N, Henry RJ (2012) "Novel microsatellite markers for the endangered Australian rainforest tree Davidsonia jerseyana (Cunoniaceae) and cross-species amplification in the Davidsonia genus." Conservation Genetics Resources 5(1), 161-164.
  • Grattapaglia D, Vaillancourt RE, Shepherd M, Thumma B, Foley WJ, Kulheim C, Potts BM, Myburg A (2012) "Progress in Myrtaceae genomics; Eucalyptus as the pivotal genus." Tree Genetics and Genomes 8, 463-508.
  • Sexton T, Henry R, Harwood C, Thomas A, McManus LJ, Raymond CA, Henson M, Shepherd M (2011) "Pectin methylesterase genes influence solid wood properties of Eucalyptus pilularis." Plant Physiology 158, 531-541.
  • Sexton T, Henry R, Harwood C, Thomas D, McManus L, Raymond C, Henson M, Shepherd M (2011) SNP discovery and association mapping in Eucalyptus pilularis (blackbutt). BMC Proceedings 5, O9..
  • Shepherd M, Bihua C, Henry R (2013) "Microsatellite markers for Eucalyptus pilularis (Subgenus Eucalyptus); sourcing genetic markers outside the subgenus." Silvae Genetica 62, 246-256..
  • Shepherd M, Rose T, Raymond C (2013) "Rejuvenation of mature native Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) for vegetative propagation." Propagation of Ornamental Plants 13, 103-111..
  • Shepherd M, Henson M, Lee DJ (2012) "Revisiting genetic structuring in spotted gums (Genus Corymbia Section Politaria) focusing on C. maculata, an early diverged, insular lineage." Tree Genetics & Genomes 8, 137-147.
  • Shepherd M, Bartle J, et al. (2011) Eucalypts as a biofuel feedstock. Biofuels 2, 639-657.
  • Shepherd, M., T. R. Sexton, et al. (2010). "Geographical and historical determinants of microsatellite variation in Eucalyptus pilularis " Canadian Journal of Forest Research 40: 1051-1063.
  • Ochieng, J., M. Shepherd, et al. (2010). "Two sympatric spotted gum species are molecularly homogeneous." Conservation Genetics 11: 45-56.
  • Sexton, T., R. Henry, et al. (2010). "Capture of Assay Template by Multiplex PCR of Long Amplicons for Genotyping SNPs and InDels with MALDI-TOF Mass Spectrometry." Molecular Breeding 25: 471-480.
  • Shepherd, M. and C. A. Raymond (2010). "Species differentiation and gene flow in the Blackbutts (Genus Eucalyptus Subgenus Eucalyptus Section Pseudophloius)." Conservation Genetics. 11: 1965-1978.
  • Sexton, T., R. J. Henry, et al. (2010). "Genetic association studies in Eucalyptus pilularis Smith (blackbutt)." Australian Forestry 73(4): 254-258.
  • Le, S., C. J. Nock, et al. (2009). "Genetic differentiation among and within three red mahoganies (Series Annulares), Eucalyptus pellita, E. resinifera and E. scias (Myrtaceae)." Australian Systematic Botany 22: 332-343.
  • Ochieng, J. W., M. Shepherd, et al. (2008). "Genetic variation within two sympatric spotted gum eucalypts exceeds between taxa variation." Silvae Genetica 57(4-5): 249-256.
  • Barbour RC, Crawford AC, Henson M, Lee DJ, Shepherd M, Potts BM (2008) The risk of pollen-mediated gene flow from exotic Corymbia plantations into native Corymbia populations in Australia. For Ecol Manag 256:1-19.
  • Shepherd, M., S. Kasem, et al. (2008). "Genetic structuring in the spotted gum complex (genus Corymbia, section Politaria)." Australian Systematic Botany 21: 15-25.
  • Shepherd, M., S. Kasem, et al. (2008). "Mapping species differences for adventitious rooting in a Corymbia torelliana x C. citriodora subspecies variegata hybrid." Tree Genetics and Genomes 4: 715-725.
  • Shepherd, M. and C. G. Williams (2008). "Comparative mapping among subsection Australes (genus Pinus, family Pinaceae)." Genome 51(5): 320-331.
  • Jones, ME, Shepherd, M, Henry, RJ and Delves, A (2008) Pollen flow in Eucalyptus grandis determined by paternity analysis using microsatellite markers. Tree Genetics and Genomes 4(1):37-47
  • Ochieng JW, Henry RJ, Baverstock PR, Steane DA and Shepherd M (2007) Nuclear Ribosomal Pseudogenes resolve a corroborated Monophyly of the eucalypt genus Corymbia despite misleading hypotheses at functional ITS paralogs. Molecular Phylogenetics & Evolution 44:752-764
  • Ochieng, JW, Steane, DA, Ladiges, PY, Baverstock, PR, Henry, RJ and Shepherd, M (2007) Microsatellites retain phylogenetic signals across genera in eucalypts (Myrtaceae). Genetics & Molecular Biology 30(4):1125-1134
  • Shepherd, M, Pomroy, P, Dieters, M and Lee, D (2007) Genetic Control of propagation traits in a single Corymbia torelliana x Corymbia variegata family. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 37:2563-2574
  • Eliott, F, Shepherd, M & Henry, R J (2006) Verification of Interspecific pine hybrids using paternally inherited chloroplast microsatellites. Forest Genetics 12:81-87
  • Jones ME, Shepherd M, Henry RJ and Delves A (2006) Chloroplast DNA variation and population structure in a widespread forest tree species. Conservation Genetics 7(5):691-703
  • Freeman J, S, Potts BM, Shepherd M, Vaillancourt RE (2006) Parental and consensus linkage maps of Eucalyptus globulus using AFLP and microsatellite markers. Sil Genet 55 (4-5):202-216
  • Chen B, Shepherd M, Liang Y-c (2006) The genetic relationship between species of Corymbia and phylogenetic analysis ofits CCR gene. Journal of Fujian Forestry College 3
  • Rice, N, Cordeiro, G M, Shepherd, M, Bundock, P, Bradbury, L M E, Watson, L, Crawford, AC, Pacey-Miller, T, Furtado, A and Henry, RJ (2006) DNA Banks & their role in facilitating the application of genomics to plant germplasm. Plant Genetic Resources 4:64-70
  • Shepherd, M, Huang, S, Eggler, P, Cross, M, Dale, G, Dieters, M & Henry, RJ (2006) Congruence in QTL for adventitious rooting in Pinus elliottii x P caribaea hybrids resolves between and within-species effects. Molecular Breeding 18:11-28
  • Shepherd, M, Kasem, S, Lee, D & Henry, RJ (2006) Construction of microsatellite linkage maps for Corymbia. Silvae Genetica 55:228-238
  • Shepherd, M, Nguyen, L, Jones, ME, Nichols, D and Carpenter, FL (2006) A method for assessing arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi group distribution in tree roots by intergenic transcribed sequence variation. Plant and Soil 290(1-2):259-268
  • Scott, L, Shepherd, M, Dieters, MJ, Nikles, DG, Henry, RJ (2005) Low efficiency of pseudotestcross mapping design was consistent with limited genetic diversity and low heterozygosity in hoop pine (Araucaria cunninghamii, Araucariaceae). Trees Genetics and Genomes 1:124-134
  • Shepherd, M, Mellick, R, Toon, P, Dale, G, Dieters, M (2004) Genetic control of adventitious rooting on stem cuttings in two Pinus elliottii x P caribaea hybrid families. Annals of Forest Science 62:403-412
  • Scott, LJ, Shepherd, M, and Henry, RJ (2003) Characterisation of highly conserved microsatellite loci in Araucaria cunninghamii and related species. Plant Systematics and Evolution 236:115-123
  • Shepherd, M, Cross, M, Dieters, M, Harding, K, Kain, D, and Henry, RJ (2003) Genetics of physical wood properties and early growth in a tropical pine hybrid. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 33:1923-1932
  • Shepherd, M, Cross, M, Dieters, MJ and Henry, RJ (2003) Genetic maps for Pinus elliottii var elliottii and P caribaea var hondurensis using AFLP and microsatellite markers. Theoretical Applied Genetics 106:1409-1419
  • Shepherd, M and Henry, RJ (2002) Identification of Pinus elliottii var ellliottii XP caribaea var hondurensis hybrids using the chloroplast IrnL-F intergenic Spacer. Silvae Genetica 51:273-277
  • Shepherd, M, Cross, M, Dieters, MJ and Henry, RJ (2002) Branch architecture QTL for Pinus elliottii var elliottii X P caribaea var hondurensis hybrids. Annals of Forest Science 59:617-625
  • Shepherd M, Cross M, Stokoe RL, Scott LJ, Jones ME (2002) High-throughput DNA extraction from forest trees. Plant Mol Biol Rep 20 (4):425a-425j
  • Shepherd, M, Cross, M, Maguire, TL, Dieters, MJ, Williams, CG and Henry, RJ (2002) Transpecific microsatellites for hard pines. Theoretical and Applied Genetics 104:819-827
  • Jones ME, Stokoe RL, Cross MJ, Scott LJ, Maguire TL, Shepherd M (2001) Isolation of microsatellite loci from spotted gum (Corymbia variegata), and cross-species amplification in Corymbia and Eucalyptus. Molecular Ecology Notes 1:276 - 278
  • Stokoe, RL, Shepherd, M, Lee, DJ, Nikles, DG and Henry, RJ (2001) Natural Inter-subgeneric Hybridisation between Eucalyptus acmenoides Schauer and Eucalyptus cloeziana F Muell (Myrtaceae) in Southeast Queensland. Annals of Botany 88:563-570
  • Shepherd M, Chaparro JX, Teasdale R (2000) Variation and inheritance of resistance to defoliation by Christmas beetles, Anoplognathus sp (Leach) in eucalypts. Forest Genetics 7:57-64
  • Saini, HS, Shepherd, M and Henry, RJ (1999) Microwave extraction of total genomic DNA from barley grains for use in PCR. Journal of the Institute of Brewing 105:185-190
  • Scott, LJ, Cross, M, Shepherd, M, Maguire, T and Henry, RJ (1999) Increasing the Efficiency of Microsatellite Discovery from Poorly Enriched Libraries in Coniferous Forest Species. Plant Molecular Biology Reporter 17:351-354
  • Shepherd M, Chaparro JX and Teasdale R (1999) Genetic mapping of monoterpene composition in an interspecific eucalypt hybrid. TAG 99:1207-1215
  • Shepherd, M and Henry, RJ (1998) Monitoring of fluorescence during DNA melting as a method for discrimination and detection of PCR products in variety identification. Molecular Breeding 4:509-517

Conference Abstracts

  • Shepherd M (2012) Gene flow risk assessment for Corymbia citriodora subspecies variegata. In 'Gene flow from planted eucalypts CRC Forestry Annual Science meeting', 5th April 2012, Mantra Hotel Mooloolaba Queensland
  • Shepherd M (2012) Genetics research in subtropical hardwoods at SCU. In 'CRC Forestry Program 2: Managing thinning and wood quality in subtropical eucalypts', 9-10 May 2012, Invercald House, Lismore
  • Shepherd M, King G, Lee D (2013) Prolonging juvenility to improve rooting in eucalypts. In 'FIRC Meeting', 22 Nov 2013, Ecosciences Precinct
  • Sexton TR, Henry RJ, Harwood CE, Thomas DS, McManus LJ, Raymond C, Henson M, Shepherd M(2011) SNP discovery and association mapping in Eucalyptus pilularis (blackbutt). In: IUFRO tree biotechnology conference, From genomes to integration and delivery, Ecoresort Arraial d'Ajuda Convention Center, Arraial d'Ajuda, Bahia, Brazil, June 26th to July 2nd 2011. BMC Proceedings.
  • Sexton T, Thomas D, Henry R, Henson M, Shepherd M (2011) Eucalypt comparative genomics identifies model genes to study the effect of domestication or range depletion on adaptive variation. Paper presented at the International Botanical Conference, Melbourne, 23 July 2011.
  • Shepherd M (2010) DNA Fingerprinting: Opportunities for the RPBC. Paper presented at the Radiata Pine Breeding Company Technical Meeting, Christchurch, 1st December
  • Shepherd M (2010) Eucalypts for Biofuels. Paper presented at the Eucalypts for Biofuels Workshop, University of Queensland Staff Club, 18 August 2010
  • Shepherd M (2009) Genetic structuring of Eucalyptus pilularis; invited presentation. Paper presented at the Sub-tropical Eucalyptus Workshop, Grafton Forest Technology Centre, Forests NSW Trenayr, 30 March 2009
  • Shepherd M Multiplex PCR. In: Waters D (2009) Mutation breeding approaches to improving protein and starch quality, Centre for Plant Conservation Genetics, 23-27 March 2009 2009. Centre for Plant Conservation Genetics, Southern Cross University
  • Sexton T, Henry RJ, Henson M, Smith H, Thomas D and Shepherd M (2007) Association genetics for improved solid wood quality in Blackbutt (Eucalyptus pilularis). Forestry CRC Annual Meeting. Barossa Valley, SA. 8-11 July 2007.
  • Ochieng, JW, Baverstock, PR, Henry, RJ and Shepherd, M (2006) Population panmixia in a spotted gum species complex (Mytaceae): Implications for association mapping. Plant and Animal Genomes Conference XIV. San Diego, USA. 14 - 18 January 2006.
  • Shepherd, M, Baker, N, Kasem, S, Lee, D and Henry, RJ (2006) Comparative mapping of Eucalyptus and Corymbia. 13th Australasian Plant Breeding Conference. Auckland, New Zealand. 18-21 April 2006.
  • Shepherd, M and Henry, RJ (2004) Corymbia genetics at Southern Cross University. Eucalypt Genomics Workshop. Hobart, Australia. 14-16 July 2004.
  • Henry, RJ, Pacey-Miller, T, Kennedy, B, Bundock, P, Ablett, GA, Cordeiro, GM, Waters, DLE and Shepherd, M (2003) SNP discovery and analysis in plant genomes. Genetics Society of Australia Conference. Melbourne, Victoria. 6-11 July 2003.
  • Shepherd, M, Cross, M, Eggler, P and Henry, RJ (2003) Microsatellite maps for Pinus elliottii and P caribaea: Lessons from transpecific microsatellites in pines. 11th International Plant and Animal Genome Conference. San Diego CA, USA. 11-15 January 2003.
  • Shepherd, M, Eggler, P, Mellick, R, Cross, M, Toon, P, Dale, G, Huang, S and Dieters, M (2003) Stability of gene effects (QTL) in extreme genetic backgrounds: Mapping genes controlling adventitious root formation in hybrid pines. CRC for Sustainable Production Forestry Annual Meeting. Cradle Mountain TAS, Australia. 21-23rd October 2003.
  • Scott, L, Shepherd, M, Henry, RJ, Graham, G, Dieters, M and Nikles, G (2002) Utility and evolution of microsatellites in the Araucariaceae. The Araucariaceae Symposium. Auckland, New Zealand. 14-17 March 2002.
  • Jones, ME, Shepherd, M, Henry, RJ, Bruskin, S and Delves, A (2001) Intraspecific chloroplast DNA variation and population structure in Eucalyptus grandis Hill Ex Maiden. Tree Biotechnology in the next Millennium. Stevenson, USA. 22-27 July 2001.
  • Jones, ME, Shepherd, M, Henry, RJ, Bruskin, S and Delves, A (2001) Gene flow and genetic diversity in eucalypt plantations and native forest in north coast New South Wales. Wood, Breeding and Biotechnology Workshop. Cedex, France. Jun-01.
  • Shepherd, M (2001) Transpecific microsatellites in pines. A & M Pine Microsatellite Workshop. Texas, USA.
  • Stokoe RL, Shepherd M, Lee DJ, Nikles GD and Henry RJ (2001) Microsatellite and Chloroplast Diversity within Eucalyptus cloeziana. Tree Biotechnology in the next Millennium. Stevenson, USA. 22-27 July 2001.
  • Henry, RJ and Shepherd, M (2000) Molecular analysis of Hybrids. Symposium on Hybrid Breeding and Genetics. Noosa, Queensland. 9-14 April 2000.
  • Jones, ME, Shepherd, M, Henry, RJ, Schoer, L and Delves, A (2000) Gene Flow and Genetic Diversity Between Eucalypt Plantations and Local Native Forest in North Coast New South Wales. Symposium on Hybrid Breeding and Genetics. Noosa, Queensland. 9-14 April 2000.
  • Scott, LJ, Shepherd, M, Nikles, DG, Dieters, MJJ and Henry, RJ (2000) QTL Mapping in a Hoop Pine Interprovenance hybrid population. Symposium on Hybrid Breeding and Genetics. Noosa, Queensland. 9-14 April 2000.
  • Shepherd, M, Dieters, MJJ, Toon, P, Nikles, G, Cross, M and Henry, RJ (2000) The Genetic Basis of Heterosis for Stem Volume in an Interspecific Pinus Hybrid from QTL Mapping. Symposium on Hybrid Breeding and Genetics. Noosa, Queensland. 9-14 April 2000.
  • Stokoe, R, Shepherd, M, Henry, RJ, Lee, D and Nikles, G (2000) Interspecific Hybridisation between Eucalyptus cloeziana and Eucalyptus acmenodies. Symposium on Hybrid Breeding and Genetics. Noosa, Queensland. 9-14 April 2000.
  • Cross, M, Shepherd, M and Henry, RJ (1999) Cross transfer of microsatellite markers in the genus Pinus. 46th Annual Meeting of the Genetics Society of Australia Inc. Griffith University, Brisbane QLD, Australia. 14-16 July 1999.
  • Holton, TA, Henry, RJ, Saini, H and Shepherd, M (1999) DNA based cereal variety identification. 49th Royal Australian Chemical Institute Cereal Chemistry Division Conference. Melbourne, Victoria.
  • Rossetto M, Shepherd M, Cordeiro GM, Harriss FCL, Cross, M, Lee LS and Henry, RJ (1999) Cross species amplification of microsatellite loci - a valuable tool for genetic studies in plants. Plant and Animal Genome VII. San Diego CA, USA. January 1999.
  • Saini, H, Shepherd, M and Henry, RJ (1999) DNA profiling of barley grains - a rapid extraction, PCR amplification and detection. 49th Royal Australian Chemical Institute Cereal Chemistry Division Conference. Melbourne, Victoria.
  • Scott, L, Shepherd, M, Nikles, G, Dieters, M and Henry, RJ (1999) Isolation, characterisation and transferability of microsatellites in Hoop Pine (Araucaria cunninghammii) and related species. Genetics Society of Australia. Brisbane, Queensland.
  • Scott, LJ, Shepherd, M, Cross, M, Maguire, T and Henry, RJ (1999) Increasing the efficiency of microsatellite discovery from enriched libraries in coniferous forest species. SFTIC. New Orleans, USA.
  • Shepherd, M, Cross, M, Dieters, M, Toon, P, Harding, K Nikles, DG, Henry, RJ and Haines, R (1999) Genetic mapping of wood properties in Pinus elliottii var Elliottii x P Caribaea var Hondurensis hybrids. Presentation to SFTIC. New Orleans, USA. 11-14 July 1999.
  • Shepherd, M and Henry, RJ (1998) Genotyping using DNA melting profiles. 6th International Plant & Animal Genomes Conference. San Diego CA, USA.
  • Henry, RJ, Maguire, T, Rossetto, M, Lee, LS, McLauchlan, A, Homer, L, Garland, S, Weining, S, Cross, M, Gupta, R, Shepherd, M and Baverstock, P (1997) Analysis of plant microsatellites. 44th Annual Conference of Genetics Society of Australia Inc. Proceedings of the 44th Annual Conference of Genetics Society of Australia Inc. Perth, Western Australia. Pg 12-Jan.
  • Shepherd, M, Ko, L and Henry, RJ (1997) Detection methods for DNA based cereal identification. RACI 47th Australian Cereal Chemistry Conference. Perth, Western Australia.
  • Shepherd, M, McLauchlan, A, Homer, L and Henry, RJ (1997) A rapid assay for plant breeding applications based upon capillary-PCR combined with real-time fluorescent detection. International Congress of Plant Molecular Biology. Singapore.
  • Shepherd, M, McLauchlan, A, Homer, L, Saini, H, Weining, S and Henry, RJ (1997) Advances in DNA based varietal identification for barley. Australian Barley Technical Symposium. Gold Coast, Queensland.


  • Shepherd M, Lee D, Turnbull P, Brown T, Bush D, Brawner J, Bartle J, Macdonell P, Henry R (2011) Eucalypts for biofuel production in northern Australia; identifying species from current and future testing programs. RIRDC report no. 11/064. A report for the FICCRF Project "Assessment of forest species for bioenergy production in Northern Australia. RIRDC, Canberra
  • Shepherd M and Baker N (2005). Conservation of microsatellite loci in Eucalyptus and Corymbia spp., In: Technical Report. No. 153. CRC-SPF Lismore, New South Wales, 38 pages.