Prof. Dr. Alex Greenwood

Head of Department

Department of Wildlife Diseases

External position: Professor of Wildlife Diseases, Department of Veterinary Medicine, Freie Universität Berlin

Tel: 0049 (0) 30 5168 - 255

Short curriculum vitae

Alex D. Greenwood is Head of the Department of Wildlife Diseases at the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research and Professor of Wildlife Diseases at the Freie Universität Berlin in the Department of Veterinary Medicine in Germany. Prof. Greenwood’s group is active in evolutionary virology focusing on retroviruses and herpesviruses. He is investigating how herpesviruses spread in the environment and from one species to another. He has a long standing interest in evolutionary mechanisms underlying retroviral colonization of vertebrate genomes and applies ancient DNA methods, in some cases, to gain insights into the process. His group recently characterized several retroviral groups from polar bears while investigating the cause of death of the world famous polar bear, Knut of the Berlin Zoological Garden. In the process he and his colleagues determined that Knut suffered from encephalitis caused by an autoimmune disease that previously had only been diagnosed in humans.
Research interests
  • Wildlife Diseases
  • Evolutionary Virology
  • Pathogen transmission
  • Pathogen genomics
  • Wildlife herpesviruses
  • Retroviruses
  • High throughput sequencing methods
  • Ancient DNA
Selected publications

Seeber PA, McEwen GK, Löber U, Förster DW, East ML, Melzheimer J, Greenwood AD (2019) Terrestrial mammal surveillance using hybridization capture of environmental DNA from African waterholes. Mol Ecol Res. 19(6):1486-1496

Soilemetzidou S, de Bruin E, Franz M, Aschenborn OHK,  Rimmelzwaan GF, van Beek R, Koopmans M, Greenwood AD*, Czirják G*  (2019) Diet may drive influenza A virus exposure in African mammals. J Infect Dis. Online first, In press * Corresponding authors

Presslee S, Slater G, Pujos F, Forasiepi AM, Fischer R, Olsen J, Molloy K, Mackie M,  Kramarz A, Taglioretti M, Scaglia F, Lezcano M, Hajduk A, Southon J, Feranec R, Bloch J, Lanata JL, Martin FM, Gismondi RS, Reguero M, de Muizon C, Billet G, Greenwood AD, Chait B, Collins M, MacPhee RDE (2019) Collagen proteomics resolves relationships of tree sloths and their extinct relatives. Nat Ecol Evol. 3(7):1-10

Numberger D, Riedel T, McEwen G, Nübel U, Frentrup M, Schober I, Bunk B, Spröer C, Overmann J,Grossart HP, Greenwood AD (2019) Genomic analysis of three Clostridioides difficile isolates from urban water sources. Anaerobe. 8;56:22-26

Seeber PA, Dayaram A, Sicks F, Osterrieder N, Franz M,* Greenwood AD* (2019) Non-invasive detection of equid herpesviruses using fecal samples. Appl. Environ. Micro. 85(3). pii: e02234-18.* equal contribution

Löber U, Hobbs M, Dayaram A, Tsangaras K, Jones K, Alquezar-Planas DE, Ishida Y, Meers J, Mayer J, Quedenau C, Chen W, Johnson RN, Timms P, Young P, Roca AL*, Greenwood AD* (2018) Degradation and remobilization of endogenous retroviruses by recombination during the earliest stages of a germline invasion. Proc Natl Acad Sci. 115(34):8609-8614 * corresponding authors

Franz M, Kramer-Schadt S, Greenwood AD, Courtiol A (2018) Sickness-induced lethargy can increase host contact rates and pathogen spread in water-limited landscapes. Functional Ecol. 32(9):2194-2204

Azab W§, Dayaram A§, Greenwood AD*, Osterrieder N* (2018) How host specific are herpesviruses? Lessons from herpesviruses infecting wild and endangered mammals. Ann Rev Virol. 5(1):53-68. §Equal contributors, * Co-PI

Dayaram A, Tsangaras K, Pavulraj S, Azab W, Groenke N, Wibbelt G, Sicks F, Osterrieder N, Greenwood AD. (2018) Novel Divergent Polar Bear-Associated Mastadenovirus Recovered from a Deceased Juvenile Polar Bear. mSphere. 3(4). pii: e00171-18.

Johnson RN, et al (2018) Out on a limb –insights into adaptation, survival and conservation from the koala genome. Nat Genetics. 50(8):1102-1111.

Mendoza MLZ, Xiong Z, Escalera-Zamudiod M, Rungea AK, Thézée J, Streicker D, Frank HK, Loza-Rubio E, Liu S, Ryder OA, Castruita JAS, Katzourakis A, Pacheco GA, Taboada B, Löber U, Pybus OG, Li Y, Rojas-Anaya E, Bohmann K, Baez AC, Arias CF, Liu S, Greenwood AD, Bertelsen MF, White NE, Bunce M, Zhang G, Sicheritz-Pontén T, Gilbert MTP (2018) Hologenomic adaptations underlying the evolution of sanguivory in the common vampire bat. Nat. Ecol. Evol. 2(4):659-668

Dayaram A, Franz M , Schattschneider A, Damiani AM , Bischofberger S, Osterrieder N, Greenwood AD (2017) Long term stability and infectivity of herpesviruses in water. Sci Rep. 7:46559

Escalera-Zamudioa M, Rojas-Anayab E, Kolokotronis SO,  Taboada B, Méndez-Ojedad ML, Loza-Rubiob E, Arias CF, Osterrieder N, Greenwood AD (2016). Bats, primates, and the evolutionary origins and diversification of mammalian gammaherpesviruses. mBio. 7(6). pii: e01425-16

Alfano N, Michaux J, Morand S, Aplin K, Tsangaras K, Löber U, Fabre PH, Fitriana Y, Semiadi G, Ishida Y, Helgen KM, Roca AL, Eiden MV, Greenwood AD. (2016) An endogenous gibbon ape leukemia virus (GALV) identified in a rodent (Melomysburtoni subsp.) from Wallacea (Indonesia). J Virol. 90(18):8169-80

Escalera-Zamudio M,  Zepeda-Mendoza ML, Loza-Rubio E, Rojas-Anaya E, Méndez-Ojeda ML, Arias CF,  Greenwood AD (2015) The evolution of bat nucleic acid sensing Toll-1 like receptors. Mol Ecol. 24(23):5899-909.

Escalera-Zamudio M, Zepeda LM, Heeger F, Loza-Rubio E, Rojas-Anaya E, Méndez-Ojeda M, Taboada B, Mazzoni CJ, Arias CF,  Greenwood AD (2015) A novel endogenous betaretroviruses in the common vampire bat (Desmodus rotundus) suggests multiple independent infection and cross-species transmission events. J Virol. 89(9):5180-4

Ishida Y, Zhao K, Greenwood AD, Roca AL. (2015) Proliferation of Endogenous Retroviruses in the Early Stages of a Host Germ Line Invasion. Mol Biol Evol. 32(1):109-20

Greenwood AD*, Tsangaras K*, Ho SY, Szentiks CA, Nikolin VM, Ma G, Damiani A, East ML, Lawrenz A, Hofer H, Osterrieder N. (2012) A Potentially Fatal Mix of Herpes in Zoos. Curr Biol. 22(18):1727-31  *Equal contributors

Ávila-Arcos MC*, Ho SYW*, Ishida Y*, Nikolaidis N*, TsangarasK, Hönig K, Medina R, Rasmussen M, Fordyce SL, Calvignac-Spencer S, Willerslev E, Gilbert MTP, Helgen KM, Roca AL§, Greenwood. AD.§ (2012) 120 years of koala retrovirus evolution determined from museum skins. Mol Biol Evol 30(2):299-304. * equal contributors, § corresponding authors