Dr John Ferguson

School of Life Sciences
Dr John Ferguson



  • PhD Biological Sciences University of Essex,

  • MSc Plant Genetics University of East Anglia,

  • BSc Ecology University of East Anglia,


University of Essex

  • Lecturer, School of Life Sciences, University of Essex (14/7/2022 - present)

Other academic

  • Visiting Scholar, Institute for Genomic Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (1/7/2016 - 1/7/2019)

  • Research Fellow, Future Food Beacon, University of Nottingham (1/7/2019 - 1/1/2021)

  • Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of Plant Sciences, University of Cambridge (1/1/2021 - 14/7/2022)

  • Visiting Researcher, Department of Plant Sciences, University of Cambridge (14/7/2022 - present)

Research and professional activities

Research interests

High-throughput phenotyping

Open to supervise

Photosynthesis and respiration

Open to supervise

Field crops research

Open to supervise

Teaching and supervision

Current teaching responsibilities

  • Transferable Skills in Life Sciences (BS143)

  • Genome Science (BS222)

  • Plant Molecular Physiology and Genetics (BS234)

  • Molecular Ecology (BS240)

  • Issues in Biomolecular Science (BS304)

  • Genome Bioinformatics (BS312)

  • Plant Biotechnology (BS323)

  • Employability Skills for the Biosciences (BS211)

  • Plant Biology and Ecosystems (BS111)

  • Research Project: MSc Biotechnology (BS984)


Publications (2)

Ferguson, JN., Schmuker, P., Dmitrieva, A., Quach, T., Zhang, T., Ge, Z., Nersesian, N., Sato, SJ., Clemente, TE. and Leakey, ADB., Reducing stomatal density by expression of a synthetic EPF increases leaf intrinsic water use efficiency and reduces plant water use in a C4crop

Ferguson, JN., Caproni, L., Walter, J., Shaw, K., Thein, MS., Mager, S., Taylor, G., Cackett, L., Mathan, J., Vath, RL., Martin, L., Genty, B., Pe, E., Lawson, T., Dell’Acqua, M. and Kromdijk, J., (2023). The genetic basis of dynamic non-photochemical quenching and photosystem II efficiency in fluctuating light reveals novel molecular targets for maize (Zea mays) improvement

Journal articles (17)

Busch, FA., Ainsworth, EA., Amtmann, A., Cavanagh, AP., Driever, SM., Ferguson, JN., Kromdijk, J., Lawson, T., Leakey, ADB., Matthews, JSA., Meacham‐Hensold, K., Vath, RL., Vialet‐Chabrand, S., Walker, BJ. and Papanatsiou, M., (2024). A guide to photosynthetic gas exchange measurements: Fundamental principles, best practice and potential pitfalls. Plant, Cell & Environment

Gojon, A., Nussaume, L., Luu, DT., Murchie, EH., Baekelandt, A., Rodrigues Saltenis, VL., Cohan, J., Desnos, T., Inzé, D., Ferguson, JN., Guiderdonni, E., Krapp, A., Klein Lankhorst, R., Maurel, C., Rouached, H., Parry, MAJ., Pribil, M., Scharff, LB. and Nacry, P., (2023). Approaches and determinants to sustainably improve crop production. Food and Energy Security. 12 (1)

Ferguson, JN., Jithesh, T., Lawson, T. and Kromdijk, J., (2023). Excised leaves show limited and species-specific effects on photosynthetic parameters across crop functional types. Journal of Experimental Botany. 74 (21), 6662-6676

Robson, JK., Ferguson, JN., McAusland, L., Atkinson, JA., Tranchant-Dubreuil, C., Cubry, P., Sabot, F., Wells, DM., Price, AH., Wilson, ZA. and Murchie, EH., (2023). Chlorophyll fluorescence-based high-throughput phenotyping facilitates the genetic dissection of photosynthetic heat tolerance in African (Oryza glaberrima) and Asian (Oryza sativa) rice.. Journal of Experimental Botany. 74 (17), 5181-5197

Cowling, SB., Treeintong, P., Ferguson, J., Soltani, H., Swarup, R., Mayes, S. and Murchie, EH., (2022). Out of Africa: characterizing the natural variation in dynamic photosynthetic traits in a diverse population of African rice (Oryza glaberrima).. Journal of Experimental Botany. 73 (10), 3283-3298

Li, S., Moller, CA., Mitchell, NG., Martin, DG., Sacks, EJ., Saikia, S., Labonte, NR., Baldwin, BS., Morrison, JI., Ferguson, JN., Leakey, ADB. and Ainsworth, EA., (2022). The leaf economics spectrum of triploid and tetraploid C₄ grass Miscanthus x giganteus.. Plant, Cell and Environment. 45 (12), 3462-3475

Ferguson, JN., Tidy, AC., Murchie, EH. and Wilson, ZA., (2021). The potential of resilient carbon dynamics for stabilizing crop reproductive development and productivity during heat stress. Plant, Cell & Environment. 44 (7), 2066-2089

Ferguson, JN., Fernandes, SB., Monier, B., Miller, ND., Allen, D., Dmitrieva, A., Schmuker, P., Lozano, R., Valluru, R., Buckler, ES., Gore, MA., Brown, PJ., Spalding, EP. and Leakey, ADB., (2021). Machine learning-enabled phenotyping for GWAS and TWAS of WUE traits in 869 field-grown sorghum accessions. Plant Physiology. 187 (3), 1481-1500

Ferguson, JN., McAusland, L., Smith, KE., Price, AH., Wilson, ZA. and Murchie, EH., (2020). Rapid temperature responses of photosystem II efficiency forecast genotypic variation in rice vegetative heat tolerance. The Plant Journal. 104 (3), 839-855

Ferguson, JN., Meyer, RC., Edwards, KD., Humphry, M., Brendel, O. and Bechtold, U., (2019). Accelerated flowering time reduces lifetime water use without penalizing reproductive performance in Arabidopsis. Plant, Cell and Environment. 42 (6), 1847-1867

Leakey, ADB., Ferguson, JN., Pignon, CP., Wu, A., Jin, Z., Hammer, GL. and Lobell, DB., (2019). Water Use Efficiency as a Constraint and Target for Improving the Resilience and Productivity of C3 and C4 Crops. Annual Review of Plant Biology. 70 (1), 781-808

Ferguson, JN., (2019). Climate change and abiotic stress mechanisms in plants. Emerging Topics in Life Sciences. 3 (2), 165-181

Valluru, R., Gazave, EE., Fernandes, SB., Ferguson, JN., Lozano, R., Hirannaiah, P., Zuo, T., Brown, PJ., Leakey, ADB., Gore, MA., Buckler, ES. and Bandillo, N., (2019). Deleterious Mutation Burden and Its Association with Complex Traits in Sorghum (Sorghum bicolor). Genetics. 211 (3), 1075-1087

Bechtold, U., Ferguson, JN. and Mullineaux, PM., (2018). To defend or to grow: Lessons from Arabidopsis C24. Journal of Experimental Botany. 69 (11), 2809-2821

Ferguson, JN., Humphry, M., Lawson, T., Brendel, O. and Bechtold, U., (2018). Natural variation of life-history traits, water use, and drought responses in Arabidopsis. Plant Direct. 2 (1), e00035-

Dawson, AM., Ferguson, JN., Gardiner, M., Green, P., Hubbard, A. and Moscou, MJ., (2016). Isolation and fine mapping of Rps6: an intermediate host resistance gene in barley to wheat stripe rust. Theoretical and Applied Genetics. 129 (4), 831-843

Dawson, AM., Ferguson, JN., Gardiner, M., Green, P., Hubbard, A. and Moscou, MJ., (2016). Erratum to: Isolation and fine mapping of Rps6: an intermediate host resistance gene in barley to wheat stripe rust. Theoretical and Applied Genetics. 129 (4), 861-861

Grants and funding


Non-Invasive Technological Approaches to Crop Health Detection

Innovate UK (formerly Technology Strategy Board)


Dynamic Plant Phenotyping for future proofing crop productivity

Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council

Development of a smart irrigation system to minimise water use in a plant nursery

[UOE_BIAA] University of Essex (BBSRC IAA)



Colchester Campus

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