Peter Holland

Linacre Professor of Zoology and Head of Department

Fellow of Merton College


Research Interests

I am interested in how the evolution of animal diversity can be explained through evolution of the genome. Because the body plan of animals is generated through embryonic development, the evolution of genes that control development is of particular interest. In recent years we have been using whole genome sequence data to analyse the evolution of homeobox genes, particularly in relation to gene and genome duplication. Currently, we are studying the evolution of homeobox genes and their functions in teleost fish, insects and mammals. For other members of the laboratory, please go to

Additional Information

I am currently a Governor of the Marine Biological Association, an Honorary Research Fellow of the Natural History Museum, London, and specialist advisor on homeobox genes for the HUGO Gene Nomenclature Committee. Recent awards include the Linnean Medal for Zoology in 2012, the Alexander Kowalevsky Medal in 2006 and the Genetics Society Medal in 2004. For further details, go to

For publications, go to



PA: Sharon Cornwell: (01865 271259)



Selected Publications

  • Holland, P.W.H. (2012) Advanced Review: The evolution of homeobox genes.
    WIREs Developmental Biology. DOI: 10.1002/wdev.78

  • Sato, A., White-Cooper, H., Doggett, K. and Holland, P.W.H. (2009) Degenerate evolution of the hedgehog gene in a hemichordate lineage. PNAS 106, 7491-7494

  • Putnam, N.H., (32 others), Holland, L.Z., Holland, P.W.H., Satoh, N. and Rokhsar, D.S. (2008) The amphioxus genome and the evolution of the chordate karyotype. Nature 453, 1064-1072
  • Holland, Peter (2011) The Animal Kingdom: a Very Short Introduction.
    Oxford University Press. £ 7.99

  • Holland, L.Z., (61 others), Satoh, N. and Holland, P.W.H. (2008) The amphioxus genome illuminates vertebrate origins and cephalochordate biology. Genome Research 18, 1100-1111


  • Holland, P.W.H., Booth, H.A.F. and Bruford, E. (2007) Classification and nomenclature of all human homeobox genes. BMC Biology. 5:47, doi:10.1186/1741- 7007-5-47
  • Jimenez-Guri, E., Philippe, H, Okamura, B and Holland, PWH (2007) Buddenbrockia is a myxozoan worm. Science 317, 116-118