Dr Scott Cummins, ARC Research Fellow


PhD (2002), Deakin University


+61 754 565 501

Previous Positions (For academics/ post docs)

2012 - present, ARC Future Fellow, University of the Sunshine Coast

2008 - 2012, UQ Research Fellow, The University of Queensland

2002 - 2008, Postdoctoral Fellow and Instructor, The University of Texas, Medical Branch


My research is about revealing basic gaps in our understanding of the gene and protein machinery that underlie cell communication. This includes an investigation of cell migration, through a multidisciplinary analysis of tilapia primordial germ cell migration. By understanding the molecular mechanism of cell specification, migration, ligand binding and the impact of environmental stressors, we can then address major problems in sustainable aquaculture and animal conservation through the acceleration of innovative surrogate technologies. In another study, we have been investigating cell communication by neurohormones that slow down metabolism. Some animals are known to undergo the remarkable transition from active awake to extreme dormancy, called estivation, a hypometabolic state that ensures life continues even during long periods of environmental hardship. Our research is utilising this natural system to reveal estivation-specific genes and neurohormones, which could ultimately be used to aid life extension in animals. We have also expanded our studies to include marine sponges (ARC Discovery Project), the marine pest crown-of-thorns starfish (Federal ReefRescue) and the freshwater snail Biomphalaria. In these studies we have been collaborating with researchers at The University of Queensland, Australian Institute of Marine Sciences, and QIMR to combine peptidomic and genomic analyses to uncover the role of olfactory signalling in aquatic animals. Although olfactory communication is essential to multicellular life, there remain significant gaps in knowledge. For example, peptide signals act as hormones and neurotransmitters in humans, yet we know little about when and how they evolved. By placing these data in a comparative framework, we are able to resurrect the ancestral roles of peptide signalling in metazoans and thereby identify the major contributions of this signalling system in regulating animal multicellularity.

Research areas

Molecular neuroethology

Protein pheromones

Functional genomics

Invertebrate olfaction

Primordial germ cell migration

Teaching areas

Molecular biology

Molecular biotechnology

Chemical Ecology


Chapters & Publications

Baughman KW, McDougall C, Cummins SF, Hall M, Degnan BM, Satoh N, Shoguchi E. organization of Hox and ParaHox clusters in the echinoderm, Acanthaster planci. Genesis. 2014 Nov 12. doi: 10.1002/dvg.22840.

Stewart MJ, Favrel P, Rotgans BA, Wang T, Zhao M, Sohail M, O'Connor WA, Elizur A, Henry J, Cummins SF. Neuropeptides encoded by the genomes of the Akoya pearl oyster Pinctata fucata and Pacific oyster Crassostrea gigas: a bioinformatic and peptidomic survey. BMC Genomics. 2014 Oct 2;15:840. doi: 10.1186/1471-2164-15-840.

Ventura T, Cummins SF, Fitzgibbon Q, Battaglene S, Elizur A. Analysis of the central nervous system transcriptome of the eastern rock lobster Sagmariasus verreauxi reveals its putative neuropeptidome. PLoS One. 2014, 12;9(5):e97323.

Neuroecology and neuroethology in mollusc: The interfact between behaviour and environment. Ch 14 – Olfaction in Gastropods. Cummins SF and Wyeth R. Nova Science Publishers Inc., 2013

Kornthong N, Chotwiwatthanakun C, Chansela P, Tinikul Y, Cummins SF, Hanna PJ, Sobhon P. Characterization of red pigment concentrating hormone (RPCH) in the female mud crab (Scylla olivacea) and the effect of 5-HT on its expression. Gen Comp Endocrinol. 2013, 1;185:28-36.

Stewart MJ, Stewart P, Sroyraya M, Soonklang N, Cummins SF, Hanna PJ, Duan W, Sobhon P. Cloning of the crustacean hyperglycemic hormone and evidence for molt-inhibiting hormone within the central nervous system of the blue crab Portunus pelagicus. Comp Biochem Physiol A Mol Integr Physiol. 2013;164(2):276-90.

Brady P, Elizur A, Cummins SF, Ngyuen NH, Williams R, Knibb W. Differential expression microarrays reveal candidate genes potentially associated with reproductive dysfunction of captive-reared prawn Penaeus monodon. Aquaculture. 400;14-28, 2013

Stewart MJ, Stewart P, Sroyraya M, Soonklang N, Cummins SF, Hanna PJ, Duan W, Sobhon P. Cloning of the crustacean hyperglycemic hormone and evidence for molt-inhibiting hormone within the central nervous system of the blue crab Portunus pelagicus. Comp Biochem Physiol A Mol Integr Physiol. 2013

Tanasawet S, Withyachumnarnkul B, Changsangfar C, Cummins SF, Sroyraya M, Sangsuwan P, Kitiyanant Y, Asuvapongpatana S, Weerachatyanukul W. Isolation of organic matrix nacreous proteins from Haliotis diversicolor and their effect on in vitro osteoinduction. Malacologia. 56(1&2):107-119, 2013.

York PS, Cummins SF, Degnan SM, Woodcroft BJ, Degnan BM. Marked changes in neuropeptide expression accompany broadcast spawnings in the gastropod Haliotis asinina. Front Zool. 9;9(1), 2012.

Cummins SF, Bowie JH. Pheromones, attractants and other chemical cues of aquatic organisms and amphibians. Nat Prod Rep. 29(6):642-58, 2012.

Brady P, Elizur A, Williams R, Cummins SF, Knibb W. Gene expression profiling of the cephalothorax and eyestalk in Penaeus monodon during ovarian maturation. Int J Biol Sci. 8(3):328-343, 2012.

Kuanpradit C, Stewart MJ, York PS, Degnan BM, Sobhon P, Hanna PJ, Chavadej J, Cummins SF. Characterization of mucus-associated proteins from the abalone (Haliotis) – candidates for chemical signalling. FEBS J. 279(3):437-450, 2012.

Cummins SF, Tollenare A, Degnan BM, Croll RP. Molecular analysis of two FMRFamide-encoding transcripts expressed during the development of the tropical abalone Haliotis asinina. J Comp Neurol. 519(10): 2043-59, 2011.

Cummins SF, Boal JG, Buresch KC, Nagle GT, Kuanpradit C, Sobhon P, Holm, JB, Degnan BM, Hanlon RT.. Extreme aggression in male squid induced by a eta-MSP-like pheromone. Current Biol. 21;1-6, 2011.

Croset V, Cummins SF, Benton R. Ancient protostome origin of chemosensory ionotropic glutamate receptors and the evolution of insect taste and olfaction. J Neurogenetics. 24;1, 30-31, 2010.

Cummins SF, Degnan BM Sensory sea slugs: Towards decoding the molecular toolkit required for a mollusc to smell. Addendum: Commun Integr Biol. 3(5):423-6, 2010.

Srivastava M, Simakov O, Chapman J, Fahey B, Gauthier ME, Mitros T, Richards GS, Conaco C, Dacre M, Hellsten U, Larroux C, Putnam NH, Stanke M, Adamska M, Darling A, Degnan SM, Oakley TH, Plachetzki DC, Zhai Y, Adamski M, Calcino A, Cummins SF, Goodstein DM, Harris C, Jackson DJ, Leys SP, Shu S, Woodcroft BJ, Vervoort M, Kosik KS, Manning G, Degnan BM, Rokhsar DS.The Amphimedon queenslandica genome and the evolution of animal complexity. Nature 466(7307):720- 6, 2010.

Croset V, Rytz R, Cummins SF, Brawand D, Kaessmann H and Benton R. Ancient protostome origin of chemomsensory ionotropic glutamate receptors and the evolution of insect taste and olfaction. PLoS Genet 6(8):e1001064, 2010.

Koene JM, Sloot W, Montagne-Wajer K, Cummins SF, Degnan BM, Smith JS, Nagle GT, ter Maat A. Male accessory gland protein reduces egg laying in a simultaneous hermaphrodite. PLoS One 5(4):e10117, 2010.

York PS, Cummins SF, Degnan SM, Woodcroft BJ, Degnan BM. Identification of genes differentially expressed in the ganglia of growing Haliotis asinina. J Shellfish Res. 29(3):741-752, 2010.

Kuanpradit C, Cummins SF, Degnan BM, Sretarugsa P, Hanna PJ, Sobhon P, Chavadej J. Identification of an attractin-like pheromone in the mucus-secreting hypobranchial gland of the abalone, Haliotis asinina. J Shellfish Res. 29(3):699-704, 2010.

Wollesen T, Cummins SF, Degnan BM, Wanninger A. FMRFamide gene and peptide expression during CNS development of the cephalopod molluscs, Idiosepius notoides. Evol Dev. 12(2):113-30, 2010.

Cummins SF, Nuurai P, Nagle GT, Degnan, BM. Conservation of the egg-laying hormone neuropeptide and attractin pheromone in the spotted sea hare, Aplysia dactylomela. Peptides 31(3):394-401, 2010.

Cummins SF, Erpenbeck D, Zou Z, Claudianos C, Moroz LL, Nagle GT, Degnan BM. Candidate chemoreceptor subfamilies differentially expressed in the chemosensory organs of the mollusc Aplysia. BMC Biology 7:28, 2009.

Williams EA, Cummins SF, Degnan SM. Settlement specifics: Effective induction of abalone settlement and metamorphosis corresponds to biomolecular composition of natural cues. Addendum: Commun Integr Biol 2(4):347-9, 2009.

Cummins SF, LeBlanc L, Degnan BM, Nagle GT. Molecular identification of candidate chemoreceptor genes and signal transduction components in the sensory epithelium of Aplysia. J Exp Biol 212(Pt13):2037-44, 2009.

Cummins SF, York PS, Hanna PJ, Degnan BM, Croll RP. Expression of prohormone convertase 2 and the generation of neuropeptides in the developing nervous system of the gastropod Haliotis. Int J Dev Biol 53(7):1081-8, 2009.

Panasophonkul S, Apisawetakan S, Cummins SF, York PS, Degnan BM, Hanna, P.J., Saitongdee P, Sobhon P, Sretarugsa P. Molecular characterization and analysis of a truncated serotonin receptor gene expressed in neural and reproductive tissues of abalone. Histochem Cell Biol 15(1):629-642, 2009.

Cummins SF, Degnan, BM, Nagle GT. Characterization of Aplysia Alb-149, a novel water-borne protein candidate pheromone that is released during egg laying. Peptides 29:152-161, 2008.

Cummins SF, Xie F, de Vries MR, Annangudi SP, Misra M, Degnan BM, Sweedler JV, Nagle GT, Schein CH. Aplysia temptin: the “glue” in the water-borne attractin pheromone complex. FEBS J. 274(20):5425-37, 2007.

Cummins SF, de Vries M, Hill K, Boehning DF, and Nagle GT. Gene characterization and evidence for expression of G Protein α Subunits, Phospholipase C, and an Inositol 1,4,5-Trisphosphate Receptor in Aplysia californica pheromone sensory cells. Genomics 90(1):110-20, 2007.

Cummins SF, Xie F, Misra M, Amare A, Jakubowski J, de Vries MR, Sweedler JV, Nagle GT, Schein CH. Recombinant production and structural studies of the Aplysia water-borne protein pheromone enticin indicates it has a novel disulfide stabilized fold. Peptides 28(1):94-102, 2007.

Cummins SF, Nichols AE, Schein CH, Nagle GT. Newly identified water-borne protein pheromones interact with attractin to stimulate mate attraction in Aplysia. Peptides 27(3):597-606, 2006.

Cummins SF, Nagle GT. Aplysia capsulin is localized to egg capsules and egg cordon sheaths and shares sequence homology with Drosophila dec-1 gene products. Peptides 26:589-596, 2006.

Cummins SF, Nichols AE, Warso CJ, Nagle GT. Aplysia seductin is a water-borne protein pheromone that acts in concert with attractin to stimulate mate attraction. Peptides 26:351-359, 2006.

Research grants

Project Title: Investigating hypometabolism to reveal critical factors that aid life extension

Grant Scheme: ARC Discovery Project, 2011-2014

Project Title: Decoding the rules of fate, attraction and cell migration in perciform fish

Grant Scheme: ARC Future Fellowship, 2011-2015

Project Title: Origin of genomically-encoded communication in animals: deciphering the role of peptide signalling in the sea sponge Amphimedon queenslandica

Grant Scheme: ARC Discovery Project, 2013-2016

Project Title: Regional nuclear magnetic resonance infrastructure network for South East Queensland and Northern New South Wales

Grant Scheme: ARC LIEF, 2013

Project Title: Overcoming membrane protein research roadblocks: A Queensland facility for membrane protein production and crystallisation

Grant Scheme: ARC LIEF, 2012

Project Title: Investigation of pheromones in the crown-of-thorns starfish

Grant Scheme: ReefRescue, 2014-2015