Dr Jon Ellis
Lecturer in Conservation Genetics
School of Biological and Marine Sciences (Faculty of Science and Engineering)
Lecturer in Conservation Genetics
- 2013 - present Lecturer in Environmental Science then Lecturer in Conservation Genetics, Plymouth University
- 2011 - 2013 Lecturer in Molecular Conservation Biology, MMU
- 2010 - 2011 Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Plymouth University
- 2008-2010 Associate Research Fellow, Exeter University
- 2008 Experiential Learning Development Project, Plymouth University
- 2006 - 2007 Post-doctoral Research Fellow, Plymouth University
- 2002-2005 PhD. Population Genetics and Ecology of Rare Bumblebees in the UK, University of Southampton
- 1999-2002 BSc. (Hons) Zoology with Animal Ecology, University of Wales, Bangor
Member Genetics Society
Member British Ecological Society
- conservation biology and conservation genetics,
- molecular ecology,
- evolution & biodiversity,
- terrestrial invertebrate ecology, esp. insects and moss invertebrates
I teach on undergraduate and postgraduate courses in biological and environmental sciences. This includes residential field courses in the UK and abroad, practical classes, tutorials and lectures as well as supervising undergraduate and postgraduate research projects.
I am also the Senior Tutor in the School of Biological and Marine Sciences. I believe that science students should leave university with new conceptual knowledge, improved academic and practical skills, enhanced critical thinking and an analytical mindset, but also improved resilience and determination with a good mindset for life's future challenges.
I am interested in molecular ecology and the use of genetic tools to study natural populations, as well as the evolution of biodiversity and its conservation. I am especially interested in insects and fungi, but also work on tardigrades and fish. I am also keen to establish red spider mite as an experimental model of evolutionary conservation in the laboratory.
1. ‘Wherefore the magic? Investigating the origin of psychedelic compounds in nature’ Leverhulme Trust, PI
This project will begin in 2021. It will combine microbiology, molecular ecology and genetic methods (barcoding, RNA-Seq, gene editing), behavioural trials and fieldwork to investigating evolutionary hypotheses for psilocybin biosynthesis.
2. 'Bringing back black bees', NERC-CASE studentship with Victoria Buswell, Dr Mairi Knight, Dr Vanessa Huml, B4. Co-Investigator.
Victoria is investigating the phenotypic and genotypic basis of local adaptation in UK populations of the dark European honey bee, Apis mellifera mellifera. Collaborative work with Washington State University is planned on cryopreservation of honey bee sperm.
3. Modelling insect dispersal with Dr Rich Billington, Dr Mairi Knight and Joe Eva. Co-Investigator.
Joe has recently started his Ph.D and will be investigating morphometry, wind, weather and climate in relation to insect dispersal and invasions.
4. Population genetics of the colonization of the UK by Bombus hypnorum with Dr Mairi Knight (Plymouth University), Dr Vanessa Huml, Kirsty Lloyd and Dr Mark Brown (Royal Holloway). Co-Investigator.
This project is examining the population genetics of the colonisation and subsequent expansion of Bombus hypnorum in the UK.
5. Extremophiles in a changing world - the mechanistic bases of stress resistance in rotifers and tardigrades, Dr Chiara Boschetti (PI), Prof Simon Rundle. Co-Investigator
This Ph.D project will begin in 2021 and will use bioinformatics approaches to characterise genes and pathways involved in stress tolerance in meiofauna.
Ecological restoration of china clay mining sites with Mary Lane, Dr Michael Hanley, Dr Charlotte Braungardt, Dr Mairi Knight and Dr Paul Lunt and Sibelco. P.I.
Mary recently completed her PhD on the ecological restoration of heathland after china clay extraction. This project was part-funded by Sibelco. Her work involved the investigation of the role of mycorrhizal fungi as well as metal nutrients. It involved laboratory work and field-scale trials
Adaptive conservation genomics of European grayling with Vanessa Huml, Dr Ed Harris, Dr Martin Taylor (UEA), Dr Robin Sen (MMU) and the Grayling Research Trust. P.I.
Vanessa's Ph.D project examined genetic diversity of MHC loci in European grayling (Thymallus thymallus) in relation to bacterial and environmental parameters as well as in contrast to neutral variation, using next-generation sequencing approaches. Vanessa is now a post-doc in our group and continues to publish her recent work.
Conservation genetics of the hazel dormouse with Fraser Combe and Dr Ed Harris (MMU). Co-Investigator.
Fraser completed his PhD at Manchester Metropolitan under Dr Ed Harris (DoS). Fraser was examining landscape and conservation genetics of the hazel dormouse (Muscardinus avellanarius) in the UK. He worked closely with a number of wildlife trusts, but particularly with Dr Simone Bullion at Suffolk Wildlife Trust.
Genetic diversity, immunity and parasite load in widespread versus declining bumblebee species with Sarah Rustage. Dr Mairi Knight, Dr Richard Billington and Dr Mark Borwn (Royal Holloway). Co-Investigator.
This project examined genetic diversity and fitness (parasite load and immunocompetence) in Bombus monticola (in contrast to the closely related but widespread B. pratorum). The project is currently being followed up by NGS RAD-Seq of Bombus monticola populations (Dr Vanessa Huml). Research outputs are in prep.
Grants & contracts
Grants and awards
£242,910 Leverhulme Trust ‘Wherefore the magic? Investigating evolutionary hypotheses for the evolution of psychedelic compounds in nature’
£5289 Seale-Hayne Trust ‘Adaptation to novel plant hosts in highly polyphagous invertebrate pests’ PI Dr Michael Thom
£5836 Seale-Hayne Educational Trust ‘Ecological restoration of mineral extraction sites: role of mycobiont in ericaceous plant growth on restored mine spoil’. Funds to support PhD research of Mary Lane on ecological restoration of china clay sites.
£10712 ‘The application of a novel population genomic approach to provide fresh insights into the causes of rarity among a major UK pollinator group’ PI Dr Mairi Knight.
£4118 Seale-Hayne Educational Trust ‘Maintaining sustainability of natural resources’
Funds to support next-generation sequencing of hatchery reared grayling
Internal faculty-wide PhD studentship competition MMU, plus £10,000 Grayling Research Trust. ‘Assessing adaptive genetic variation for effective conservation and management of European Grayling’
£4870 Research accelerator grant. ‘Adaptive conservation genomics of an important insect pollinator’. Internal grant competition MMU.
£1080 Society of Biology, Undergraduate Research Bursary. Identifying evolutionary significant units in the hazel dormouse.
NERC quota studentship. ‘Neutral and functional genetic variation, parasite load and immunocompetence in social insects’. Co-applicant with Dr. Mairi Knight on a successful bid for an internal PhD studentship, Plymouth University.
£72990 Leverhulme trust, ‘Neutral versus functional genetic diversity: a new conservation genetic agenda’ (P.I. Dr Mairi Knight, University of Plymouth; named researcher, Jonathan Ellis).
£6340 Seale-Hayne Educational Trust ‘Development of molecular techniques to further understanding of wireworm ecology’ (with Prof. Rod Blackshaw).
£300 Genetics Society travel grant (conference attendance).
Key publications are highlightedJournals
In my spare time I am a keen cyclist (roadie) and used to compete at an amateur level on the local scene as part of Team Certini. I now ride and race for Plymouth Corinthian CC. I am learning Russian (reading comprehension ~ lower intermediate, speaking - beginner) and Polish (beginner).