School of
Integrative Biology
John M. Cheeseman

Mail: 286 Morrill Hall, 505 S. Goodwin Ave, Urbana, IL 61801
Lab Page

John M. Cheeseman
Professor Emeritus - Plant Biology


Ph.D., 1975, Duke University
BS, 1970, Duke University

Teaching Interests

Organismal Biology
Field Ecology

The relationships between plant biology, food security, food sovereignty and actually feeding the world's poor

Before retirement, my research was concentrated in the environmental physiology and organismal biology of plants. Later career projects emphasized (1) mechanisms by which tropical intertidal trees (mangroves) function in the face of multiple and extreme environmental stresses. This research spanned levels from field measurements of photosynthesis and other physiological processes, to laboratory biochemical and enzymatic assays, to molecular level characterizations of genes involved in the metabolism of stress tolerance and the control of photosynthesis. Field research on this project has been done in Queensland, Western Australia, Tanzania, Curaçao and Belize. (2) Molecular characterization of “mangrove lifestyle”. In this project, we sequenced and annotated the transcriptomes of two unrelated and functionally diverse mangroves and created a web-based, searchable database incorporating all reported sequences from mangroves. (3) Phenological patterns of leaf H2O2 levels in 18 temperate zone plants. Characterization of seasonal, developmental and stress related oxidant loads were related their underlying causes.

Since retiring, I have concentrated on synthesizing and expanding what I learned over a 40 year period through writing, particularly in the field of organismal and ecological complexity associated with salinity. I have increasingly addressed the roles of environmental degradation, population growth, economic and political inequalities, neo-imperialism and poverty, and their impacts on food security and food sovereignty, especially in the developing world.

Finally, I have developed a website, eXtremeplants, in conjunction with Prof. Simon Barak at Ben Gurion University of the Negev. The site is organized by model/system, each with relevant species. In addition, there are a number of special topic posts ranging from recognition of noteworthy research to whimsical thoughts.

Representative Publications

Cheeseman, J. M. (1988) Mechanisms of salinity tolerance in plants. Plant Physiology, 87, 547-550.

Cheeseman JM (2012) How red mangrove seedlings stand up. Plant and Soil 255, 395-406.

Oh DH, Dassanayake M, Bohnert H, Cheeseman J (2012) Life at the extreme: lessons from the genome. Genome Biology 13, 241-249.

Cheeseman JM (2013) The integration of activity in saline environments: problems and perspectives. Functional Plant Biology 40, 759-774.

Cheeseman JM (2014) Exploiting plants from extreme environments: have we both world enough and time? Integrated Land Ecosystem - Atmosphere Process Study Newsletter 14, 9-11.

Cheeseman JM (2015) Tansley Review - The evolution of halophytes, glycophytes and crops, and its implications for food security under saline conditions. New Phytologist 206, 557-570.

Cheeseman JM (2016) Food security in the face of salinity, drought, climate change and population growth. In 'Halophytes for Food Security in Dry Lands'. (Eds M Kahn, M Ozturk, B Gul and M Ahmed) pp. 111-123. (Elsevier: Amsterdam)

Complete Publications List