Axel Barlow

Lecturer in Molecular Bioscience (Bioinformatics)
School of Science and Technology
Nottingham Trent University

Email: axel[at]
NTU staff profile
ResearchGate profile
Google Scholar profile

Research Interests

The genomes of animals have been shaped by their population history. Axel’s research gathers data from genomes in order to uncover this evolutionary process. This includes studying how, when and why populations diverge, admix, change size, and become extinct. In addition to these evolutionary questions, Axel is also interested in new technologies and methodologies for DNA sequencing and its analysis. In particular, he is interested in how genetic data can be retrieved from ancient biological materials and used to shed light on ancient populations and processes, which can remain hidden from view when only modern populations are investigated.

Axel finds the bone of a Pleistocene cave bear, deep inside a cave in Bulgaria


Axel started his Bachelor degree in Zoology in 2004 at Bangor University in North Wales. For his Bachelor thesis project, he investigated venom evolution in saw-scaled vipers, which led to his first scientific publication in 2009. He then continued at Bangor to study an MSc in Ecology, and subsequently a NERC funded PhD investigating African viper phylogeography and phylogeny, under the supervision of Dr. Wolfgang Wuster. Following his PhD, Axel joined Prof. Michi Hofreiter’s group as a postdoc on his ERC grant investigating geneflow in Pleistocene mammals in 2013. Here, Axel gathered new skills and knowledge in the fields of ancient DNA and population genomics, and developed his interest in the developing field of palaeogenomics. In 2019, Axel accepted a Lecturer position in Molecular Biosciences at Nottingham Trent University, where he will establish the Pleistocene Genomics Lab.

Selected publications

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.

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.

Barlow A, Baker K, Hendry CR, Peppin L, Phelps T, Tolley KA, Wüster CE, Wüster W (2013) Phylogeography of the widespread African puff adder (Bitis arietans) reveals multiple Pleistocene refugia in southern Africa. Molecular Ecology, 22, 1134–57.

Barlow A, Pook CE, Harrison R, Wüster W (2009) Coevolution of diet and prey-specific venom activity supports the role of selection in snake venom evolution. Proceedings of The Royal Society B, 276, 2443–2449.

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