Prof Ian Johnston

Prof Ian Johnston
Emeritus Professor


School Positions
Chandos Professor of Physiology (1997-present)
Director, Scottish Oceans Institute (2012-present)
Director, Gatty Marine Laboratory (1985-2008)
Director of Research, School of Biology (2003-6)
Member, School of Biology Management Group (2000-2006) (2012-present)
Head of School: (Biology & Preclinical Medicine, 1987-1992; Environmental & Evolutionary Biology, 1997-1999)

External Positions
Steering Committee Member of the European Marine Biological Resource Centre (EMBRC) – an ESFRI Research Infrastructure in the preparatory phase (2011-2014)
Steering Committee Member of LIFECYCLE an EU-funded FP7 Integrated Research Project (2009-2013)
Vice-President (2005-2007) and President (2007-2009) Society for Experimental Biology
Member of the Natural Environment Research Council & Chairman, Marine Science & Technology Board (1995-2000)
Adjunct Professor, University of Nordland, Norway (2002-2011)

Elected Fellow Royal Society of Edinburgh 1987
Awarded Scientific Medal Zoological Society of London 1984

Research Group
Dr Vera Vieira-Johnston (Honorary Research Fellow)
Dr Daniel J. Macqueen (MASTS Research Fellow)
Dr Daniel Garcia de la serrana (EU-funded)
Dr Thomas Ashton (BBSRC-funded)
Clara Coll-Llado, PhD student/academic apprentice (50% with Dr David Ferrier)

Professor Shugo Watabe, Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences, The University of Tokyo, Bunkyo, Tokyo 113-8657, Japan
Dr Bjarni K. Kristjánsson, Holar University College, Iceland
Dr Robert H. Devlin, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, West Vancouver, Canada
Professor Jorge Fernandes, University of Nordland, Norway
Industrial Partners
Young’s Seafood, SalmoBreed A/S, BioMar, Ewos Innovation

source: symbiosis


Research Overview:

Genomic and physiological approaches are being used to investigate muscle growth and adaptation in teleost fish. Skeletal muscle fibres are produced during the embryonic, larval and adult stages of the lifecycle. The genetic mechanisms controlling the production of muscle fibres and their subsequent hypertrophy are being studied. Several novel myogenic genes have been discovered and their functions characterised using in vivo and in vitro using primary muscle cultures. Using various models involving body size evolution and temperature adaptation I have shown strong selection for fibre size optimization, with consequences for the life-time production of muscle fibres. Universal scaling laws affecting muscle dimensions and energy metabolism can therefore successfully explain variations in fibre number and fine scale evolutionary patterns of myogenesis between populations and species. Salmonid fish have undergone two whole genome duplications relative to their common ancestor with tetrapods resulting in up to 8 copies (paralogues) of some genes. The role of gene paralogues in the signaling pathways regulating growth is being studied. Other research interests include the molecular mechanisms underlying seasonal temperature acclimation in fish and the consequences for muscle power output and swimming performance. Embryonic stress in zebrafish was shown to have persistent affects on thermal acclimation and myogenesis that persisted to adulthood, even after fish were raised from hatching at a common temperature. The mechanisms are currently under investigation at the genomic, tissue and whole animal levels.



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Contact Details:

Prof Ian Johnston
Scottish Oceans Institute
East Sands
University of St Andrews
St Andrews
KY16 8LB



Fish Muscle Research Group
Fish Muscle Research Group
School of Biology
Centre for Biological Diversity
Scottish Oceans Institute

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The Secretary
Scottish Oceans Institute
Institiud Chuantan na h-Alba
Gatty Marine Laboratory
East Sands St Andrews
KY16 8LB

tel: +44 (0) 1334 463472
fax: +44 (0) 1334 463443