Anna Brüniche-Olsen


My research is focused on studying molecular evolution and population genetics of the Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus harrisii). I am especially interested in understanding what impacts past climate changes may have had on the species genetic diversity, and how the current spread of the infectious cancer; devil facial tumour disease (DFTD), influences genetic diversity of devils. I use microsatellites and sequence data from whole mitochondrial genomes and nuclear loci. Based on both ancient and modern DNA I study the temporal and spatial changes in genetic variation.

Previously I have studied population genetics of bovines. I have analysed genetics diversity in indigenous Danish cattle breeds (Bos taurus), surveying genetic histories and addressing the effects of population fragmentation. This work was based on mitochondrial sequences, microsatellites and AFLP markers. I was involved in a project analysing the demographic history of African cape buffalos (Syncerus caffer caffer), estimating population size changes through time. This was inferred from complete mitogenome data.


  • PhD candidate in Zoology at the University of Tasmania, Australia (2010-present)
  • MSc in Biology from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark (2009)
  • BSc in Biology from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark (2005)


Brüniche-Olsen A, Austin JJ, Jones ME, Holland BR, Burridge CP(2013) Disease induced changes in gene flow patterns among Tasmanian devil populations. Biological Conservation, 165, 69-78.

Heller R, Brüniche-Olsen A, Siegismund HR (2012) Cape buffalo mitogenomics reveals a Holocene shift in the African human-megafauna dynamicsMolecular Ecology, 21, 3947–3959.

Brüniche-Olsen A, Gravlund P, Lorenzen ED (2012) Impacts of genetic drift and restricted gene flow in indigenous cattle breeds, evidence from the Jutland breed. Animal Genetic Resources, 50, 7585.

Withen KB, Brüniche-Olsen A, Pedersen BV, European Cattle Genetic Diversity Consortium, Gravlund P (2011) The Agersoe Cattle, the last remnants of the Danish Island cattleJournal of Animal Breeding and Genetics, 128, 141–152.

Brüniche-Olsen A, Austin JJ, Jones ME, Holland BR, Burridge CP (2016) Detecting selection on temporal and spatial scales: a genomic time-series assessment of selective responses to devil facial tumor diseasePLoS ONE, 11(3):e0147875.


  • Winifred Violet Scott Charitable Trust research grant (2012)
  • Graduate Research Office University of Tasmania travel grant (2012)
  • Holsworth Wildlife Research Endowment postgraduate research grant (2012)
  • School of Zoology, University of Tasmania postgraduate travel grant (2012)
  • Society of Molecular Biology and Evolution (SMBE) young investigators travel grant (2012)
  • Christopher (Kit) Williams equipment grant from the University of Tasmania (2011)
  • Eric Guiler research grant from Save the Tasmanian Devil Appeal (2011)
  • Ethel Mary Reid student research grant from the Royal Zoological Society of NSW (2011)
  • Ecological Society of Australia (ESA) student research grant (2011)
  • National Climate Change and Adaptation Research Foundation (NCCARF) student collaborative travel grant (2011)
  • Holsworth Wildlife Research Endowment postgraduate research grant (2011)
  • Australian Postgraduate Awards International scholarship (2010)


Talk at the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution (SMBE) conference in Dublin, Ireland (2012)

Talk at the Ecological Society of Australia (ESA) “Ecology in changing landscapes” conference in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia (2011)

Talk at the Danish Ministry of Food, Fisheries & Agriculture meeting on genetic resources in Danish livestock in Sorgenfri, Denmark (2010)

Poster presentation at the 7th International Conference on Behaviour, Physiology and Genetics in Wildlife, Berlin, Germany (2009)

Talk and poster presentation at the European Science Foundation ”Diversity, selection and adaptation in wildlife and livestock –molecular approaches” workshop in Salzburg, Austria (2008)

Field work

Anna Brüniche-Olsen – Cradle Mountain, Tasmania