Biological Sciences


Prof Mark Blaxter

Location: Ashworth 2 408

Telephone: 650 6760



Group members: No details available


1978-1981BSc (Honours Zoology), University of Edinburgh
1982-1987PhD, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
1987-1990MRC Postdoctoral Researcher, Imperial College, London
1990-1995Wellcome Trust Research Fellow, Imperial College, London
1995-1996Wellcome Trust Research Fellow, University of Edinburgh
1996-2001Lecturer, University of Edinburgh
2001-2004Reader, University of Edinburgh
2004-presentProfessor of Evolutionary Genomics, University of Edinburgh

Research groupings

Genetics, Immunology, Parasite biology, Evolutionary biology, Genomics


Developmental Biology (third year) Genomes and Genomics (third year) Field Zoology (third year) Developmental Biology (honours) Zoology (honours) Evolutionary Biology (honours) Informatics (Bioinformatics) (MSc) Bioinformatics (MSc) Wellcome Four Year PhD School Graduate School in Molecular Biology

Research interests

I am interested in the structure and evolution of animal genomes, with a particular focus on the genomes of non-model organisms. In my group, we use modern sequencing technologies to generate expressed sequence tag and genome sequence data for non-vertebrates (such as earthworms, nematodes and tardigrades), and analyse these with a variety of bioinformatics tools (including many we have written in house). In particular we are interested in the evolution of operons and trans-splicing in nematodes, the responses of soil invertebrates such as earthworms to heavy metals and pollutants, the origins of gene novelty, the deep phylogeny of animals and the evolution of development in the moulting animals such as tardigrades. We are also developing DNA barcoding techniques to identify meiofauna and other hard-to-identify taxa. We have collaborations with a wide range of colleagues round the world working on beautiful small invertebrates and their evolution.

The Blaxter Lab also houses the School of Biological Sciences Sequencing Service, an internationally renowned unit that provides both traditional capillary Sanger sequencing and next generation SOLEXA and 454 sequencing to the University, NERC science and other users. The SBSSS has ABI3730, SOLEXA 1G and 454 GSFLX instrumentation.

Grants I have funding from NERC, BBSRC and The Leverhulme Trust for research activities, as well as many collaborations with colleagues within Edinburgh and elsewhere. The SBS Sequencing Service is funded through core equipment grants from BBSRC, NERC and the Darwin Trust, and also ongoing funding through NERC Services and Facilities branch.

Representative publications

Cutter, A.D., Wasmuth, J.D., and Blaxter, M.L. (2006). The evolution of biased codon and amino acid usage in nematode genomes. Mol Biol Evol 23, 2303-2315.

Fenn, K., Conlon, C., Jones, M., Quail, M.A., Holroyd, N.E., Parkhill, J., and Blaxter, M. (2006). Phylogenetic relationships of the Wolbachia of nematodes and arthropods. PLoS Pathog 2, e94.

Ghedin, E., Wang, S., Spiro, D., Caler, E., Zhao, Q., Crabtree, J., Allen, J.E., Delcher, A.L., Guiliano, D.B., Miranda-Saavedra, D., et al. (2007). Draft genome of the filarial nematode parasite Brugia malayi. Science 317, 1756-1760.

Guiliano, D., and Blaxter, M. (2006). Operon conservation and the evolution of trans-splicing in the phylum Nematoda. PLoS Genetics 2, e198 doi:110.1371/journal.pgen.0020198.

Heider, U., Blaxter, M., Hoerauf, A., and Pfarr, K.M. (2006). Differential display of genes expressed in the filarial nematode Litomosoides sigmodontis reveals a putative phosphate permease up-regulated after depletion of Wolbachia endobacteria. Int J Med Microbiol 296, 287-299.

Jones, M., and Blaxter, M. (2006). TaxMan: a taxonomic database manager. BMC Bioinformatics 7, 536.

Jones, M., Gantenbein, B., Fet, V., and Blaxter, M. (2007). The effect of model choice on phylogenetic inference using mitochondrial sequence data: lessons from the scorpions. Mol Phylogenet Evol 43, 583-595.

Meldal, B.H., Debenham, N.J., De Ley, P., De Ley, I.T., Vanfleteren, J.R., Vierstraete, A.R., Bert, W., Borgonie, G., Moens, T., Tyler, P.A., et al. (2007). An improved molecular phylogeny of the Nematoda with special emphasis on marine taxa. Mol Phylogenet Evol 42, 622-636.

Papanicolaou, A., Gebauer-Jung, S., Blaxter, M.L., Owen McMillan, W., and Jiggins, C.D. (2007). ButterflyBase: a platform for lepidopteran genomics. Nucleic Acids Res.

Yoder, M., Tandigan De Ly, I., King, I.W., Mundo-Ocampo, M., Mann, J., Blaxter, M., Poiras, L., and De Ley, P. (2006). DESS: A versatile solution for preserving morphology and extractable DNA of nematodes. Nematology 8, 367-376.