Department / group: Institute of Biological and Environmental Sciences
Google Scholar URL: Not available

Research interests:

My research group (see below for a list of happy, curious (as in eager!) and talented people) have diverse interests covering the following exciting areas of science:

Quantifying carbon transfer between plants and soils;

The importance of both intra- and inter-specific diversity of plants and microorganisms in regulating ecosystem functioning;

The impact of nitrogen deposition and global climate change on semi-natural ecosystems;

Above-below ground interactions, such as how seabirds affect terrestrial plant communities; plant to plant communication of aphid attack; plant-mycorrhiza-invertebrate-microbe interactions; herbivore-plant interactions; linking plant functional diversity to ecosystem processes;

The ecology of mycorrhizal fungi, mainly arbuscular, ecto- and ericoid mycorrhizas.

Career history:

2014 – present. Director of Institute of Biological and Environmental Sciences (IBES), University of Aberdeen.

2003 – 2014. NERC Advanced Fellow, Lecturer, Senior Lecturer, Reader, Professor, University of Aberdeen.

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Sheffield 1997-2003. Working with Prof Jonathan Leake and Prof Sir David Read on the NERC Soil Biodiversity thematic programme.

Ph.D. University of Sheffield 1998. Thesis title: Soil microbial biomass and activity and plant nutrition in semi-natural ecosystems subjected to pollutant nitrogen deposiiton. Supervised by JR Leake and JA Lee

Active research projects:

Dr Sabine Both, who is part of the NERC BALI team working on tropical forests, especially quantifying how plant and litter traits impact biogeochemical cycles.

Dr Mathilde Chomel, who is working on a NERC Soil Security consortium project investigating how soil food web structure controls the ability of soils and their functions, related to biogeochemical cycling and greenhouse gas production, to withstand, recover and potentially adapt to disturbance events.

Dr Ben Jackson, who works on the BBSRC Ecotraits project, and is testing how plant functional diversity in grassland affects ecosystem processes.

Dr Xubing Liu, who is working on a NERC Discovery grant with fieldwork based in Danum Valley to test how mycorrhizal fungi partition soil phosphorus in tropical forests.

Dr Jen Walker, who is working on a NERC Discovery grant and investigating the costs and benefits of evolving host specialisation in ectomycorrhizal fungi.

Recent research grants

“What makes a specialist special? The physiology of ecological specialization in plant-fungal mutualisms”. May 2015-2018. NERC Standard. PI: D Johnson.

“Controls on the stability of soils and their functioning under land use and climate change” April 2015-2018. NERC/BBSRC Soil Security. PI: R Bardgett; PI: Aberdeen component: D Johnson. CoI: Mark Emmerson, Liz Baggs, Franciska De Vries, Tancredi Caruso.

“Explaining niche separation in tropical forests: feedbacks between root-fungal symbioses and soil phosphorus partitioning”. NERC Standard. (£662754 to Aberdeen); PI: D Burslem, Co-I: D. Johnson, A Taylor and T Helgason (York).

“A rhizotrait framework for the northern and southern hemispheres” BBSRC International Partnering Award (2014-2018). PI: EM Baggs, CoI: D Johnson.

“Biodiversity and land-use impacts on tropical ecosystem function (BALI)”. NERC Human Modified Tropical Forests programme. Consortium led by Dr Yit Arn-Teh; PI for Aberdeen component (£888,892): D Johnson. The Aberdeen component funds 5 years of PDRA time and 3 years of technician time.

“Linkages between plant functional diversity, soil biological communities and ecosystem services in agricultural grassland” June 2011-May 2016. BBSRC Responsive. PI: Prof RD Bardgett.

Recent publications:

Johnson, D. & Gilbert, L. (2015). ‘Interplant signalling through hyphal networks’. New Phytologist, vol 205, no. 4, pp. 1448-1453.

Johnson, D. (2015). ‘Priorities for research on priority effects’. New Phytologist, vol 205, no. 4, pp. 1375-1377.

Smith, SW., Johnson, D., Quin, SLO., Munro, K., Pakeman, RJ., van der Wal, R. & Woodin, SJ. (2015). ‘Combination of herbivore removal and nitrogen deposition increases upland carbon storage’. Global Change Biology, vol 21, no. 8, pp. 3036-3048.

Kanters, C., Anderson, IC. & Johnson, D. (2015). ‘Chewing up the wood-wide web: selective grazing on ectomycorrhizal fungi by collembola’. forests, vol 6, no. 8, pp. 2560-2570.

Gilbert, L. & Johnson, D. (2015). ‘Plant-mediated ‘apparent effects’ between mycorrhiza and insect herbivores’. Current Opinion in Plant Biology, vol 26, pp. 100-105.