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Dr John Hooper

John Hooper

John Hooper was Head of Biodiversity & Geosciences Program at the Queensland Museum since 1999, leading a group of approximately 30 permanent scientific and technical positions, up to 15 grant funded staff and a pool of over 40 active Honorary staff and volunteers to discover and document our unique marine and terrestrial, living and fossil faunas.

He is an international authority on sponges (Phylum Porifera), with specific research interests in their taxonomy, systematics, evolutionary biology, biogeography, biodiversity informatics and conservation biology, and in global biodiversity and marine conservation in general. He has collaborated extensively with various ‘biodiscovery/ bioprospecting’ agencies since 1987, searching for new therapeutic pharmaceutical compounds from marine invertebrates. Amongst the most prominent agencies were the United States National Cancer Institute, the Australian Institute of Marine Science, the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement New Caledonia & French Polynesia, the Cancer Research Institute at the University of Arizona, the Coral Reef Research Foundation in Palau, the University of Utah Medicinal Chemistry Group, the Institute of Marine Sciences at the University of Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar, and the Eskitis Institute for Drug Discovery at Griffith University.

Through these collaborations the Queensland Museum was given the unique opportunity to build extensive collections of sessile marine invertebrates from reefs across tropical Australia, Southeast Asia, the Indo-Malay Archipelago, the western Pacific rim and throughout the Pacific islands, with over 100,000 specimens generally across all sessile phyla, and specifically about 35,000 specimens in nearly 5,000 species of sponges, 1,000 tunicates and 600 octocorals – a significant proportion new to science. These collections underpin new knowledge of marine biodiversity and have more than tripled our previous estimates of species biodiversity.

Recent avenues of research include molecular genetics and an attempt to undertake "genetic barcoding" of the entire sponge and octocoral collection at the Queensland Museum, in collaboration with Ludwig Maximillians Univeristy in Munich, Germany and funded in part by the Alfred P Sloan Foundation’s Marine Barcoding of Life (MarBOL) initiative, and part of the US NSF funded Porifera Tree of Life (PorTOL) initiative. Already, even though still very much in its infancy for the Phylum Porifera, these new data have contributed significant new hypotheses to the previously chaotic taxonomy of sponges, in particular.

So far Dr Hooper has described or revised over 600 new species and new combinations, 10 new genera, 2 new families and suborders of sponges since 1982, with 230 peer-reviewed publications and 125 other technical, popular and conference papers and industry reports.

Adjunct appointments and national committees

  • Adjunct Professor, Eskitis Institute for Drug Discovery, Griffith University (2001-)
  • Council of Heads of Australian Faunal Collections Incorporated (CHAFC, Chair 2010-2013)
  • Atlas of Living Australia Management Committee (ALA , Chair 2011-2014)
  • Australian Biological Resources Study Advisory Committee (ABRS, Stakeholder member 2010-2014)
  • Subject Editor, Zootaxa (Porifera section), Magnolia Press (2001-)
  • Managing Editor, Memoirs of the Queensland Museum (MQM, 2004-)

Areas of research interest

Systematics, ecology, biogeography, biodiversity, phylogenetics, biodiscovery and conservation biology of sponges Phylum Porifera. Chemical ecology, molecular taxonomy and chemotaxonomy of Porifera. Marine ecology and fisheries. Marine and coastal management. Reproductive and population biology. Biodiversity, bioinformatics & conservation of marine resources.

Recent publications

  • Erpenbeck, Dirk; Ekins, Merrick; Enghuber, Nicole; Hooper, John NA; Lehnert, Helmut; Poliseno, Angelo; Schuster, Astrid; Setiawan, Edwin; De Voogd, Nicole J; Wörheide, Gert; Van Soest, Rob WM (2015). Nothing in (sponge) biology makes sense - except under comparison with holotypes. Journal of the Marine Biological Association (doi:10.1017/S0025315415000521)
  • Pitcher, C. Roland; Ellis, Nick; Venables, Bill; Wassenberg, Ted J; Burridge, Charis Y; Smith, Greg P; Browne, Mat; Pantus, Francis; Poiner, Ian R; Doherty, Peter J; Hooper, John NA; Gribble, Neil (2015). Effects of trawling on sessile megabenthos in the Great Barrier Reef, and evaluation of the efficacy of management strategies. ICES Journal of Marine Science (doi:10.1093/icesjms/fsv055)
  • Schuster, Astrid; Erpenbeck, Dirk; Pisera, Andrzej; Hooper, John NA; Bryce, Monika; Fromont, Jane; Wörheide, Gert (2015). Deceptive desmas: molecular phylogenetics suggests a new classification and uncovers convergent evolution of desma-bearing ‘lithistid’ Demosponges. PLoS One 10(1): e116038 (doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0116038) Link
  • Erpenbeck, Dirk; Aryasari, Ratih; Hooper, John NA; Wörheide, Gert (2014). A mitochondrial intron in a verongid sponge. Journal of Molecular Evolution(doi: 10.1007/s00239-014-9653-9)
  • Galindo, Helcy; Hooper, John NA; Pinheiro, Ulisses (2014). Clathria(Thalysias) (Poecilosclerida: Demospongiae: Porifera) from Brazil: New species and redescription of Clathria (Thalysias) basiarenacea (Boury-Esnault, 1973). Zootaxa 3878 (6): 580–592 (
  • Khokhar, Shahan; Feng, Yunjiang; Campitelli, Marc R; Ekins, Merrick G; Hooper, John NA; Beattie, Karren D; Sadowski, Martin C; Nelson, Colleen C; Davis, Rohan A (2014). Isolation, structure determination and cytotoxicity studies of tryptophan alkaloids from an Australian marine sponge Hyrtios sp. Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry Letters 24(15): 3329-3332 (
  • Hall, KA; Ekins, MG; Hooper, JNA (2014). Two new desma-less species of Theonella Gray, 1868, (Demospongiae: Astrophorida: Theonellidae) from the Great Barrier Reef, Australia, and a re-evaluation of one species assigned previously to Dercitus Gray, 1867. Zootaxa 3814(4): 451-477 ( Link
  • Tian, Li-Wentian; Feng, Yunjiang; Shimizu, Yoko; Pfeifer, Tom A; Wellington, Cheryl; Hooper, John NA; Quinn, Ronald J (2014). ApoE secretion modulating bromotyrosine derivative from the Australian marine sponge Callyspongia sp. Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry Letters 24(15): 3537-3540 ( Link
  • Tran, Trong; Pham, Ngoc; Fechner, Gregory; Hooper, John NA; Quinn, Ronald J (2014). Potent Cytotoxic Peptides from the Australian Marine Sponge Pipestela candelabra. Marine Drugs 12: 3399-3415(doi:10.3390/md12063399). Link
  • Tian, Li-Wen; Feng, Yunjiang; Shimizu, Yoko; Pfeifer, Tom; Wellington, Cheryl; Hooper, John NA; Quinn, Ronald J (2014). Aplysinellamides A-C, Bromotyrosine-Derived Metabolites from the Australian Marine Sponge Aplysinella sp. Journal of Natural Products77(5): 1210-1214 (doi: 10.1021/np500119e).
  • Grkovic, Tanja; Pouwer, Rebecca; Vial, Marie-Laure; Gambini, Luca; Noël, Alba; Hooper, John NA; Wood, Stephen; Mellick, George & Quinn, Ronald J (2014). NMR Fingerprints of the Drug-like Natural Product Space: Iotrochotazine A, a Chemical Probe to Study Parkinson's Disease. Angewandte Chemie International Edition 53(24) : 6184 –6188 (doi: 10.1002/ange.201402239). Link
  • Bilewitch, Jaret; Ekins, Merrick; Hooper, John NA; Degnan, Sandy (2014). Corrigendum to “Molecular and morphological systematics of the Ellisellidae (Coelenterata: Octocorallia): Parallel evolution in a globally distributed family". Molecular Phylogenetics & Evolution 73: 116
  • Bilewitch, Jaret; Ekins, Merrick; Hooper, John NA; Degnan, Sandy (2014). Molecular and Morphological Systematics of the Ellisellidae (Coelenterata: Octocorallia): Parallel Evolution in a Globally Distributed Family of Octocorals. Molecular Phylogenetics & Evolution 73: 106-118 (doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2014.01.023).


Taxonomy of tropical Australian Octocorallia (Anthozoa: Coelenterata) primarily from the Census of Marine Life 'CReefs' expeditions

Research project documenting and describing an existing collection of morphospecies of octocorals and undertaking new collections of octocorals of Queensland and tropical Australasia.

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Associate Honorary, Queensland Museum


BSc (Hons), MSc, PhD

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