Brian Johnson

Brian Johnson

Position Title
Assistant Professor

  • Department of Entomology and Nematology, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
383 Briggs Hall

Research Interests

Our lab studies the genetics, behavior, evolution, and health of honey bees. We use experimental and theoretical approaches to all the questions we explore. Current work in our lab focuses on the evolution and genetic basis of social behavior using comparative and functional genomics, task allocation using behavioral and theoretical approaches, and honey bee health using a combination of genetics, epidemiology, and physiological approaches.

Grad Group Affiliations

  • Animal Behavior
  • Integrative Genetics and Genomics
  • Population Biology

Specialties / Focus

  • Computational Biology
  • Behavior, Physiology and Morphology
  • Molecular Evolution


  • 2004 Ph.D. Behavioral Biology Cornell University


Atallah J, Plachetzki DC, Jasper WC, Johnson BR. 2013. The utility of shallow RNA-Seq for documenting differential gene expression in genes with high and low levels of expression. PloS ONE DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0084160

Johnson BR, Borowiec ML, Chiu JC, Lee EK, Atallah J, Ward PS. 2013 Phylogenomics resolves evolutionary relationships among ants, bees, and wasps. Current Biology 23:1-5

Johnson BR, Plachetzki DC, Atallah J. 2013. The importance of tissue specificity for RNA-Seq: highlighting the errors of composite structure extractions. BMC Genomics 14:586

Johnson BR and Tsutsui ND. 2011. Taxonomically restricted genes are associated with eusocial evolution in the honey bee. BMC Genomics 12:164

Johnson BR and Lam SK. 2010. Self-organization, Natural Selection, and Evolution: Cellular Hardware and Genetic Software. BioScience 60:879-885

Johnson BR. 2010 Eliminating the mystery from the concept of emergence. Biology and Philosophy 25: 843-849

Johnson BR and Linksvayer TA. 2010. Deconstructing the Superorganism: Social Physiology, Groundplans, and Sociogenomics. Quarterly Review of Biology 85: 57-79

Johnson BR. 2010. Division of labor in honey bees: form, function, and proximate mechanisms. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 64: 305-316

Johnson BR. 2009. A self-organizing model for task allocation via frequent task quitting and random walks in the honey bee. American Naturalist 174: 537-547

Johnson BR. 2009. Pattern formation on the combs of honey bees: increasing fitness by coupling self-organization with templates. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B – Biological Sciences 276: 255-261

Johnson BR. 2008. Within-nest temporal polyethism in the honey bee. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 62: 777–784

Johnson BR. 2003. Organization of work in the honeybee: a compromise between division of labour and behavioural flexibility. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B – Biological Sciences 270: 147-152