Molecular and Comparative Virology Research Team

Our research team studies the diversity and prevalence of adenoviruses and other DNA viruses occurring in economically important and pet animals, and in exotic zoo and wild animals.

Scientific advisor, research team leader: 

In frames of basic research, we study the molecular evolution and biodiversity of the DNA viruses causing veterinary problems by applying molecular and bioinformatics methods. We seek to detect and characterize as many adenoviruses as possible. We test our hypothesis for the general coevolution of viruses with their hosts, the occasional changes in their genome organization (gaining novel genes, the duplication and loss of some). We study the function of certain viral genes and proteins, including the adenoviral proteins responsible for the attachment to the cellular receptors and for the manipulation of the cell function. In certain cases, we try to find the reasons for the elevated pathogenicity. The animal viral vector as gene delivery vehicles could be applied both in veterinary and in human medicine for vaccination, gene or oncotherapy. Numerous novel circo-, herpes- and parvovirus are identified in vertebrate animals (from fish to mammals), and a part of these viruses turned out to represent new taxons (species, genus or family). We participate in the forming and improving of viral taxonomy. Our secondary task is the participation in the higher education, performed by involving Hungarian and foreign BSc, MSc and PhD students into our research. Our third responsibility is science dissemination. It is performed by identifying the above mentioned viruses helping thus Hungarian and foreign diagnostic laboratories and veterinarians, and educating the wider public about scientific issues through TV and radio reports, and presentation for students and the general community.


We provide an up-to-date database (a graphic summary) of available adenoviral sequences. Free diagnostic work is provided for Hungarian and foreign university departments and diagnostic laboratories. We are willing to educate and train young professionals in our research themes and on the fields of connected analytical and study methods.

Selected publications: 

Simmonds P, Adams MJ, Benkő M, Breitbart M, Brister JR, Carstens EB, Davison AJ, Delwart E, Gorbalenya AE, Harrach B, et al. (2017) Virus taxonomy in the age of metagenomics. Nat Rev Microbiol. 15:161-168 doi: 10.1038/nrmicro.2016.177

Alonso-Padilla J, Papp T, Kaján GL, Benkő M, Havenga M, Lemckert A, Harrach B, Baker AH (2016) Development of novel adenoviral vectors to overcome challenges observed with HAdV-5 based constructs. Mol Ther. 24:6-16. doi: 10.1038/mt.2015.194

Podgorski II, Pantó L, Papp T, Harrach B, Benkő M (2016) Genome analysis of four Old World monkey adenoviruses supports the proposed species classification of primate adenoviruses and reveals signs of possible homologous recombination. J Gen Virol. 97:1604-1614. doi: 10.1099/jgv.0.000465

Singh AK, Berbís MÁ, Ballmann MZ, Kilcoyne M, Menéndez M, Joshi L, Jiménez-Barbero J, Benkő M, Harrach B, van Raaij MJ (2015) Structure and sialyllactose binding of the carboxy-terminal head domain of the fibre from a siadenovirus, turkey adenovirus 3. PLoS One. 10:e0139339 doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0139339

Pénzes JJ, Menéndez-Conejero R, Condezo GN, Ball I, Papp T, Doszpoly A, Paradela A, Pérez-Berná AJ, López-Sanz M, Nguyen TH, van Raaij MJ, Marschang RE, Harrach B, Benkő M, San Martín C (2014) Molecular characterization of a lizard adenovirus reveals the first atadenovirus with two fiber genes and the first adenovirus with either one short or three long fibers per penton. J Virol. 88:11304-11314. doi: 10.1128/JVI.00306-14

Tarján ZL, Pénzes JJ, Tóth RP, Benkő M (2014) First detection of circovirus-like sequences in amphibians and novel putative circoviruses in fishes. Acta Vet Hung. 62:134-144. doi: 10.1556/AVet.2013.061

Doszpoly A, Wellehan JFX, Childress AL, Tarján ZL, Kovács ER, Harrach B, Benkő M (2013) Partial characterization of a new adenovirus lineage discovered in testudinoid turtles. Infect Genet Evol. 17:106-112. doi: 10.1016/j.meegid.2013.03.049

Kaján GL, Kecskeméti S, Harrach B, Benkő M (2013) Molecular typing of fowl adenoviruses, isolated in Hungary recently, reveals high diversity. Vet Microbiol. 167:357-363. doi: 10.1016/j.vetmic.2013.09.025

Kohl C, Vidovszky MZ, Mühldorfer K, Dabrowski PW, Radonic A, Nitsche A, Wibbelt G, Kurth A, Harrach B (2012) Genome analysis of bat adenovirus 2: indications of interspecies transmission. J Virol. 86:1888-1892. doi: 10.1128/JVI.05974-11

Benkő M, Élő P, Ursu K, Ahne W, Lapatra S E, Thomson D, Harrach B (2002) First molecular evidence for the existence of distinct fish and snake adenoviruses. J Virol. 76:10056-10059. doi: 10.1128/JVI.76.19.10056-10059.2002

National and international cooperations: 
Centro Nacional de Biotecnología (CNB-CSIC), Madrid, Spain
Janssen Infectious Diseases and Vaccines, Leiden, The Netherlands
Umeå University, Sweden
University of Edinburgh, Edinburg, UK
Universidade de Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Scientific advisor: 
Senior research fellow(s): 
Assistant research fellow(s):