Print this page

Molecular Virology Group



Michael and the Molecular Virology Group work closely with CSIRO Health and Biosecurity and CSIRO Agriculture. Michael is interested in RNA virus replication and the innate immune response to virus infections. During his career, he has gained experience with a range of viruses, including orthomyxoviruses, flaviviruses, bunyaviruses and caliciviruses. Ongoing molecular virology research focuses on the rabbit haemorrhagic fever virus (RHDV), a highly pathogenic calicivirus that is used to control the feral rabbit population in Australia, and on interferon-induced antiviral resistance proteins in sheep and other production animals.

Michael has a long-standing interest in Mx proteins, a family of interferon-induced GTPases with strong antiviral activities. More recently, he became involved in the characterization of RNA virus polymerases, the development and field testing of immunocontraceptive vaccinations, and the analysis of food-health relationships such as the effects of fructose consumption.

MX1 Expression image

Mx1 expression in the brain of a mouse infected with the Murray Valley encephalitis virus. Fluorescence microscopy revealed the typical nuclear accumulation pattern of Mx1 in the majority of cells in the olfactory bulb (red, Mx1 stained using a Mx-specific monoclonal antibody; blue, DNA stained using the chemical DAPI).


  • Development of a cell culture system for the rabbit caliciviruses
  • Virulence factors in rabbit calicivirus infections
  • Evolution of rabbit caliciviruses
  • Mx alleles in sheep
  • Immunocontraceptive vaccinations in wallabies and kangaroos
  • Systematic reviews and meta-analysis of food-health relationships


  • Dr Robyn Hall, CSIRO Health and Biosecurity, Canberra, ACT
  • Dr Lyn Hinds, CSIRO Health and Biosecurity, Canberra, ACT
  • Dr Peter Hunt, CSIRO Agriculture, Armidale, Canberra, ACT
  • Dr Kerry Mills, Systematic Solutions Ltd, Canberra, ACT
  • Dr Tanja Strive, CSIRO Health and Biosecurity, Canberra, ACT
  • Prof. Peter White, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW


  • Invasive Animal Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) funding for rabbit calicivirus-related research; title: RHD Accelerator Stage 2; investigators: Tanja Strive (CSIRO), Peter Kerr (CSIRO) Glen Saunders (NSW-DPI) Michael Frese (UC) and Lorenza Capucci (IZS, Brescia, Italy)
  • CSIRO OCE Postdoctoral Fellowships. Project title, an organoid culture platform for improved rabbit biocontrol;  investigators, Robyn Hall (CSIRO), Michael Frese (UC), Tanja Strive (CSIRO), Mary K Estes (Baylor College of Medicine, TX, USA)