Paleovirology Lab

Paleovirology Lab

About the Group

My research interests include viral evolution, genome evolution, and mobile genetic element evolution. This research is primarily focussed on studying the long term evolutionary biology of viruses. This is facilitated by the discovery of a rich genomic 'fossil record' of ancient viral sequences within the genomes of their hosts, leading to the emerging field of paleovirology. Paleovirological techniques can be applied to endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) and endogenous viral elements (EVEs) more generally.

For example, this can include using genomic sequence data to infer the evolutionary biology of retroviruses and their association with their vertebrate host genomes and immune responses, as well as modelling the dynamics of this evolutionary process. Other interests include present day viral pathogen evolution and epidemiology (e.g. HIV/HTLV), and evolutionary inference from both animal and viral genomic sequence data.

I am section editor for Virus Evolution (OUP), an associate editor of BMC Evolutionary Biology, and serve on the editorial board of Evolutionary Biology. This year, I guest edited a special issue on paleovirology for Current Opinion in Virology. Please get in touch for DPhil opportunities and discussions about potential projects.

For further information visit:


Professor Aris Katzourakis

Dr Amr Aswad
Emilia Skirmuntt (DPhil)
José Gabriel Niño Barreat (DPhil)

Recent Publications

Aswad A, Katzourakis A. (2017) A novel viral lineage distantly related to herpesviruses discovered within fish genome sequence data. Virus Evolution 3(2):vex016

Aiewsakun P, Katzourakis A. (2017) Marine origin of retroviruses in the early paleozoic era. Nature Communications 8:13954

Aiewsakun P, Katzourakis A. (2016) Time-dependent rate phenomenon in viruses. Journal of Virology 90(16):7184-95

Aswad A, Katzourakis A. (2015) Convergent capture of retroviral superantigens by mammalian herpesviruses. Nature Communications 6:8299

Katzourakis A, Magiorkinis G, Lim A, Gupta S, Belshaw R, Gifford RJ. (2014) Larger mammalian body size leads to lower retroviral activity. PLoS Pathogens 10:e1004214