The Johnston Lab

The Johnston Lab is based at the Institute of Evolutionary Biology at the University of Edinburgh. Our research interests centre on using genomic information to understand selection and evolution in wild and domesticated populations. We answer questions on sexual selection, immunity and recombination using genomic data collected from various vertebrate species, including sheep, red deer, Atlantic salmon and house sparrows.


Postdoc positions in 2020!

Two postdoc positions are available in research groups collaborating with the Johnston lab!

The first is with Dr Sarah Knowles at the University of Oxford, looking at the causes and consequences of variation in the gut microbiome of wild mice on Skokholm island. The post is for 3 years, funded by an ERC grant to Sarah – the successful candidate will have the opportunity to collaborate with our group here in Edinburgh looking at the genetic architecture of microbiome traits. Deadline is 20th February, 2020 at 12.00 GMT.

The second is with Dr Darren Obbard, Prof Peter Keightley and myself here at the University of Edinburgh. This project, funded by the BBSRC, will estimate de novo mutation rates for multiple species of Drosophila, and integrate this analysis with other population-genetic parameters in a phylogenetic context. This post will involve the development and implementation of bioinformatics pipelines, and the evolutionary analysis of population-genomic data from multiple species. Deadline is 25th February 2020 at 17.00 GMT

If you have an idea for a postdoc position in our group at Edinburgh, don’t hesitate to get in touch to discuss ideas and funding options!

PhD Studentships 2020

The Johnston lab is advertising two PhD positions working on the Soay Sheep Project starting in Autumn 2020. These are:

Genomics and evolution of recombination rate variation in a wild mammal population. This project will use extensive genomic data to investigate the genetic causes and fitness consequences of individual recombination rate variation in a long-term study of wild Soay sheep on St Kilda. Apply by Thu Jan 09 2020 at 12:00.

The genetic basis of helminth-specific immune responses in wild Soay sheep. This project will use novel genome-sequencing techniques to fine map the genes associated with immunoglobulin levels (IgA, IgE & IgG) to a high resolution in thousands of individuals, and to untangle the molecular mechanisms and evolutionary history of this variation. Apply by Sun Jan 05 2020.

If you are interested in applying for either of these projects, I strongly recommend that contact me in advance at to discuss the project in more detail, how you would fit in the group and what types of training you would require. Please don’t be shy – informal enquiries are welcome.

August 2019: Lucy Peters presented her latest PhD work investigating genomic signatures of ongoing sexual conflict in Red deer at the European Society of Evolutionary Biology in Turku, Finland. You can watch it again here: