Loretta C. Johnson, Professor


Co-Director, Ecological Genomics Institute

312 Ackert Hall
(785) 532-6921

Lab website: http://lorettajohnsonlab.weebly.com


Ph.D. 1992, Univ. Of Connecticut. Plant Ecology.

Area(s) of Specialization

Ecological Genomics, Plant Ecology, Climate Change

Research Focus

The emerging field of Ecological Genomics seeks to understand the genetic mechanisms underlying responses of organisms to their natural environments. This is being achieved through the application of functional genomic approaches to identify and characterize genes with ecological and evolutionary relevance. By its very nature, ecological genomics is an interdisciplinary field, requiring a multidisciplinary approach that combines field studies with laboratory experiments with in ecologically relevant framework. Thus, while traditionally, ecological and laboratory-based genetic/genomic studies have occupied different areas of biological investigation, Ecological Genomics seeks to integrate these disciplines by using genomic approaches in an ecological context.

So far, Ecological Genomics refers to the use of any genome-enabled approach, whether aimed at discovering the ecological functions of single or multiple genes. We can define ecological genomics as an integrative field of study that seeks to understand the genetic mechanisms underlying responses of organisms to their natural environment. These responses include modifications of biochemical, physiological, morphological, or behavioral traits of adaptive significance.

Selected Publications

Smith, Adam B., Jacob Alsdurf, Mary Knapp, Sara G. Baer, Loretta C. Johnson. 2017. Phenotypic distribution models corroborate predictions of decline from species distribution models of a dominant prairie grass. Global Change Biology 23(10):4365-4375.

Raithel, Seth, Loretta Johnson, Mathew Galliart, Susan Brown, Jennifer Shelton, Nicolae Herndon, Nora M Bello. 2016. Inferential considerations for low-count RNA-seq transcripts: a case study on an edaphic subspecies of dominant prairie grass Andropogon gerardii . BMC Genomics 17:140 DOI 10.1186/s12864-016-2442-7.

Wilson, L.R., D.J. Gibson, S.G. Baer, & L. Johnson. 2016. Plant community response to regional sources of dominant grasses in grasslands restored across a longitudinal gradient. Ecosphere Vol 74(4) article e01329.

Johnson, L.C., J.T. Olsen, H.M. Tetreault, A. DeLaCruz, J. Bryant, T.J. Morgan, M. Knapp, N.M. Bello, S.G. Baer, and B.R. Maricle. 2015. Intraspecific variation of a dominant grass and local adaptation in reciprocal garden communities along a U.S. Great Plains precipitation gradient: Implications for response to grassland restoration with climate change. Evolutionary Applications 8:705-723.

Mendola, M.L., S.G. Baer, L.C. Johnson, and B.R. Maricle. 2015. The role of ecotypic variation and the environment on biomass and nitrogen in a dominant prairie grass. Ecology 96:2433-2445.

Gray MM, St. Amand P, Akhunov ED, Knapp M, Garrett KA, Morgan TJ, Baer SG, Maricle BR, Johnson LC. 2014. Ecotypes of an ecologically dominant grass (Andropogon gerardii) exhibit genetic divergence across the U.S. Midwest environmental gradient. Molecular Ecology. DOI: 10.1111/mec.12993.

Caudle KL, Johnson LC Baer SG, Maricle BR. 2014. A comparison of seasonal foliar chlorophyll change among ecotypes and cultivars of Andropogon gerardii (Poaceae) by using non-destructive and destructive methods. Photosynthetica 52(4): 511-518.

Zhang K, Johnson L, Nelson R, Yuan W, Pei ZJ, Wang D. 2014. Thermal properties of big bluestem as affected by ecotype and planting location along the precipitation gradient of the Great Plains. Energy 64: 164-171.

Olsen JT, Caudle KL, Johnson LC, Baer SG, Maricle BR. 2013. Variation in leaf anatomy among populations of Andropogon gerardii along a precipitation gradient. American Journal of Botany100 (10):1957.

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