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Dr. Paul Johnston

Dr. Paul Johnston

Rolff Group - Evolutionary Biology

Institute of Biology

Freie Universität Berlin


Königin-Luise-Straße 1-3
14195 Berlin
+49 30 838-461356
paul.johnston [at] fu-berlin [dot] de


Post-doctoral research associate, Freie Universität Berlin, January 2011 - present. "‘Multidrug’ resistance and the evolutionary ecology of insect immunity" with Jens Rolff (PI).
Funded by the European Research Council.
(University of Sheffield, 2011-2012)

Post-doctoral research associate, University of Manchester, August 2009 - January 2011. "Competition between animals and microbes for rotting meat" with Danny Rozen (PI), Per Smiseth (Co-I) and Andrew McBain (Co-I).
Funded by the Leverhulme Trust

Associate Tutor, University of Sussex, October 2006 - October 2009.


DPhil Biochemistry, University of Sussex, October 2006 - August 2009.
"Characterisation of novel resistance and cross-resistance to Bacillus thuringiensis toxin in the diamondback moth" with Neil Crickmore. Funded by the University of Sussex.

BSc Microbiology (1st Class Hons), Heriot-Watt University, October 2002 - July 2006.
Honours project: "Molecular characterisation of Bacillus thuringiensis morrisoni" with Fergus Priest.

Awards & Grants

Xunta de Galicia, April 2015, €10,000 "Next generation sequencing and its applications in ecology and evolution" Co-I with Juan Galindo.

Santander Research Mobility Award, September 2011, €1,000 “Detecting signatures of co-speciation and co-evolution in a 350-million-year-old conspiracy” with Juan Galindo.

BBSRC Genome Analysis Centre Capacity & Capability Challenge, August 2011, £9,996 “Identification of social and individually-beneficial virulence genes via insertion site sequencing following a high-throughput screen of transposon mutants”. link Co-I with Ben Raymond (PI) and Neil Crickmore (Co-I).

BBSRC Genome Analysis Centre Capacity & Capability Challenge, August 2011, £15,405 “Do hosts and symbionts conspire to eliminate exogenous bacteria during metamorphosis?”. link Co-I with Jens Rolff (PI) and Jennie Garbutt (Co-I).

NERC Biomolecular Analysis Facility small grant award, February 2010, £7,600 “The Metagenomics of Inter-Kingdom Competition”. Named PDRA with Daniel Rozen (PI) and Per Smiseth (Co-I).

Invited plenary speaker, 12th European Meeting of the International Organization for Biological Control, June 2009

Society for Invertebrate Pathology 2nd place Student Poster Presentation, August 2008

University of Sussex Roberts Fund Award, July 2008

World Leadership Forum Science, Engineering & Technology Student of the Year Award for Best Biology Student, September 2006 link

Heriot-Watt University Watt Club Medal, July 2006

Institute of Biology Top Bioscience Student Award, July 2006

Louis Fletcher Memorial Prize for Scholarship in Microbiology, July 2006

Society for General Microbiology Undergraduate Prize, August 2005

I study how the insect immune system responds to persistent bacterial infection using the model beetle Tenebrio molitorand the facultative human pathogen Staphylococcus aureus. I'm also interested in the genomics of insect gut symbionts and how symbiotic relationships are able to withstand dynamic developmental processes such as metamorphosis.

Personal homepage


Johnston, P. R., A. D. Dobson & J. Rolff. Genomic signatures of experimental adaptation to antimicrobial peptides in Staphylococcus aureus. G3: Genes, Genomes, Genetics. Accepted. preprint

Benoit J. B., Z. N. Adelman, K. Reinhardt, A. Dolan, M. Poelchau, E. C. Jennings, E. M. Szuter, R. W. Hagan, H. Gujar, J. N. Shukla, F. Zhu, M. Mohan, D. R. Nelson, A. J. Rosendale, C. Derst, V. Resnik, S. Wernig, P. Menegazzi, C. Wegener, N. Peschel, J. M. Hendershot, W. Blenau, R. Predel, P. R. Johnston, P. Ioannidis, R. M. Waterhouse, R. Nauen, C. Schorn, M. Ott, F. Maiwald, J. S. Johnston, A. D. Gondhalekar, M. E. Scharf, B. F. Peterson, K. R. Raje, B. A. Hottel, D. Armisén, A. J. J. Crumière, P. N. Refki, M. E. Santos, E. Sghaier, S. Viala, A. Khila, S. Ahn, C. Childers, C. Lee, H. Lin, D. S. T. Hughes, E. J. Duncan, S. C. Murali, J. Qu, S. Dugan, S. L. Lee, H. Chao, H. Dinh, Y. Han, H. Doddapaneni, K. C. Worley, D. M. Muzny, D. Wheeler, K. A. Panfilio, I. M. V. Jentzsch, E. L. Vargo, W. Booth, M. Friedrich, M. T. Weirauch, M. A. E. Anderson, J. W. Jones, O. Mittapalli, C. Zhao, J. Zhou, J. D. Evans, G. M. Attardo, H. M. Robertson, E. M. Zdobnov, J. M. C. Ribeiro, R. A. Gibbs, J. H. Werren, S. R. Palli, C. Schal, S. Richards, (2015) Unique features of the bed bug, a global human ectoparasite, identified through genome sequencing. Nature Communications, 4:10165. pdf

Honnen, A. C., P. R. Johnston & M. T. Monaghan, (2016) Sex-specific gene expression in the mosquito Culex pipiens f. molestus in response to artificial light at night. BMC Genomics, 17:22. pdf

Johnston, P. R. & J. Rolff, (2015) Host and symbiont jointly control gut microbiota during complete metamorphosis. PLOS Pathogens. 11(11): e1005246. pdf

Johnston, P. R., D. J. Mikolajewski & J. Rolff, (2015) Identification of viruses associated with larvae of the dragonfly Leucorrhinia dubia, and damselfly Coenagrion puella from RNA sequencing data. International Journal of Odonatology, 18(1) 81-88. pdf

Otti, O., P. R. Johnston, G. Horsburgh, J. Galindo & K. Reinhardt, (2015) Female transcriptomic response to male genetic and non-genetic ejaculate variation. Behavioral Ecology, 26(3) 681-688. pdf

Johnston, P. R., O. Makarova & J. Rolff, (2014) Inducible defenses stay up late: temporal patterns of immune gene expression in Tenebrio molitor. G3: Genes, Genomes, Genetics, 4(6) 947-955 pdf

Johnston, P. R. & J. Rolff, (2013) Immune- and wound-dependent differential gene expression in an ancient insect. Developmental & Comparative Immunology, 40(3-4) 320-324. pdf

Dobson, A. D., P. R. Johnston, A. Vilcinskas & J. Rolff, (2012) Identification of immunological expressed sequence tags in the mealworm beetle Tenebrio molitor. Journal of Insect Physiology, 58(12), 1556-1561. pdf

Arce, A. N., P. R. Johnston, P. T. Smiseth & D. Rozen, (2012) Mechanisms and fitness effects of antibacterial defences in a carrion beetle. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 25(5), 930-937. pdf

Raymond, B., P. R. Johnston, C. Nielsen-LeRoux, D. Lereclus & N. Crickmore, (2010) Bacillus thuringiensis: an impotent pathogen? Trends in Microbiology, 18(5), 183-232. pdf

Raymond, B., P. R. Johnston, D. J. Wright, R. J. Ellis, N. Crickmore & M. B. Bonsall, (2009) A mid-gut microbiota is not required for the pathogenicity of Bacillus thuringiensis to diamondback moth larvae. Environmental Microbiology, 11(10), 2556-2563. pdf

Johnston, P. R. & N. Crickmore, (2009) Gut bacteria are not required for the insecticidal activity of Bacillus thuringiensis toward the tobacco hornworm, Manduca sexta. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 75(15), 5094-5099. pdf


Johnston, P. R., V. Krishnan & N. Crickmore. September 2007. Midgut bacteria not required for Cry1Ac insecticidal activity. COST862: Bacterial toxins for insect control IX, Plovdiv, Bulgaria.

Johnston, P.R., V. Krishnan, R. Mishra, A. H. Sayyed & N. Crickmore. Characterisation of novel resistance and cross-resistance to Bacillus thuringiensis toxin in the diamondback moth, Plutella xylostella (Lepidoptera: Yponomeutidae). August 2008. 41st Annual Meeting of the Society for Invertebrate Pathology/9th International Conference on Bacillus thuringiensis (incorporating COST862: Bacterial Toxins for Insect Control), Warwick, UK.

Johnston, P. R. & N. Crickmore. Host factors that may affect susceptibility to Bacillus thuringiensis crystal toxins. June 2009. 12th European Meeting of the International Organisation for Biological Control Group, Pamplona, Spain.

Johnston, P. R. Host and symbiont conspire to eliminate exogenous bacteria during metamorphosis. July 2012. Invited seminar speaker. Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen, Germany.

Johnston, P. R. Insect-microbe interactions: immunity, symbiosis & metamorphosis. May 2013. Justus-Liebig-Universität Geissen, Germany.

Johnston, P. R. Insect-microbe interactions: immunity, symbiosis & metamorphosis. May 2013. Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology, Marburg, Germany