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Dr. Axel Barlow

Staff Group(s)


I am a Lecturer in Molecular Bioscience and Bioinformatics, based in the School of Science and Technology at NTU's Clifton Campus. I form part of the "Health of the Environment" research group. I teach a broad range of subjects, including evolutionary biology, ecology, bioinformatics and molecular biology.

I currently teach on the following modules: BIOL30001/30002: Honours Research Project; BIOL34014: Developmental and Evolutionary Genetics; BIOL22181: Molecular Ecology; BIOL33221: Bioinformatics; BIOL25041: Evolutionary Ecology and Behaviour; BIOL10341: Life on Earth; BIOL22081: Molecular Biology and Protein Structure; BIOL40251: Techniques in Macromolecular Analysis.

Career overview

Prior to joining NTU, I held postdoctoral positions at the University of Potsdam (Germany), The University of York (UK) and Bangor University (UK). I graduated from my PhD on African viper phylogeography at Bangor University in 2013, a MSc in Ecology at Bangor in 2008, and a BSc in Zoology at Bangor in 2007.

Research areas

My research uses genetic data to understand the evolutionary history of animal populations, and the external factors that have shaped them. In particular, I am interested in the recovery of palaeogenomic data from Pleistocene subfossils which provides an "evolutionary time machine" to investigate ancient and extinct populations over the past ~1 million years. My work includes studies on extinct animals such as cave bears, sabre-toothed cats and woolly mammoths, as well as ancient representatives of present-day animals, like brown bears, European bison, leopards and giant pandas. I have also developed new lab methods and techniques for the recovery of ancient DNA, and for the computational analysis of palaeogenomic data. Please visit my personal website to find out more, and you are welcome to contact me if you would like to discuss my research further.

Personal website:


Selected Publications (follow the link above for full list):

Sheng GL, Basler N, Ji X-P, Paijmans JLA, Preick M, Hartmann S, Westbury MV, Yuan J-X, Jablonski NG, Alberti F, Xenikoudakis G, Hou X-D, Xiao B, Liu J-H, Hofreiter M, Lai X-L, Barlow A (2019) Palaeogenome reveals genetic contribution of extinct giant panda to extant populations. Current Biology 29: 1695–1700.

Barlow A, Cahill JC, Hartmann S, Theunert C, Xenikoudakis G, Fortes GG, Paijmans JLA, Rabeder G, Frischauf C, d'Anglade AG, Vázquez AG, Murtskhvaladze M, Saarma U, Anijalg A, Skrbinšek T, Bertorelle G, Gasparian B, Bar-Oz G, Pinhasi R, Slatkin M, Dalén L, Shapiro B, Hofreiter M (2018) Partial genomic survival of cave bears in living brown bears. Nature Ecology and Evolution 2: 1563–1570.

Alberti F, Gonzalez J, Paijmans JLA, Basler N, Preick M, Henneberger K, Trinks A, Rabeder G, Conard NJ,  Münzel SC, Joger U, Fritsch G, Hildebrandt T, Hofreiter M, Barlow A (2018) Optimized DNA sampling of ancient bones using Computed Tomography (CT) scans. Molecular Ecology Resources 18: 1196–1208.

Wecek K, Hartmann S, Paijmans JLA, Taron U, Xenikoudakis G, Cahill JA, Heintzman PD, Shapiro B, Baryshnikov B, Bunevich AN, Crees JJ, Dobosz R, Manaserian N, Okarma H, Tokarska M, Turvey ST, Wójcik JM, Żyła W, Szymura JM, Hofreiter M, Barlow A (2017) Complex admixture preceded and followed the extinction of wisent in the wild. Molecular Biology and Evolution, 34 (3): 598-612.

Paijmans JLA, Barnett R, Reumer JWF, de Vos J, Koot M, Gilbert T, Rohland N, Leonard JA, Barlow A, Hofreiter M (2017) Evolutionary history and extinction dynamics of extinct sabre- and scimitar-toothed cats based on ancient mitogenomes. Current Biology 27, 3330–3336.

Westbury M, Baleka S, Barlow A, Hartmann S, Paijmans JLA, Kramarz A, Forasiepi AM, Bond M, Gelfo JN, Reguero MA, Mendoza PL, Taglioretti M, Scaglia F, Rinderknecht A, Jones W, Mena F, Billet G, de Muizon C, Aguilar JL, MacPhee RDE, Hofreiter M. (2017) A mitogenomic timetree for Darwin's enigmatic “transitional” South American mammal, Macrauchenia patachonica. Nature Communications, 8, 15951.

Kehlmaier C*, Barlow A* (*joint first authors), Hastings AK, Vamberger M, Paijmans JLA, Steadman DW, Albury NA, Franz R, Hofreiter M, Fritz U (2017) Tropical ancient DNA reveals relationships of extinct Bahamian giant tortoise. Proceeding of the Royal Society of London B, 284 (1846), 20162235.

Fortes GG, Grandal-d’Anglade A, Kolbe B, Fernandes D, Meleg IN, García-Vázquez A, Pinto-Llona AC, Constantin S, de Torres TJ, Ortiz JE, Frischauf C, Rabeder G, Hofreiter M, Barlow A (2016) Ancient DNA reveals differences in behaviour and sociality between brown bears and extinct cave bears. Molecular Ecology, 25, 4907–4918.

See all of Axel Barlow's publications...