Cheeseman Website

John Cheeseman


Emeritus Professor of Plant Biology

Director of IB Honors Program
283 Morrill MC-116
(217) 333-2385


Ph.D., 1975, Duke University

BS 1970 Duke


IB271 Organismal Biology

IB447 Field Ecology


The integration of root and shoot activities for resource acquisition and allocation is a central problem in organismal biology, transcending functions of cells alone. The coordination of these activities is a phenomenon which is readily accepted, and the concepts of root-shoot communication and integrating mechanisms are well established. Still, the mechanisms underlying them remain elusive. Current work in my laboratory focuses on this problem. Using a variety of approaches, our central question is, "how does a plant get the resources it needs in the right amounts and at the right times in order to become established, to grow vegetatively, and to reproduce in a manner of a balanced, integrated organism?"


Over the years, my approach has mixed mathematical modeling with experimental activities addressing individual physiological processes, such as photosynthetic CO2 exchange and O2 evolution; tissue C, N, K, and Na partitioning and turnover; radioisotope transport studies; and growth analyses, and quantification of plant anti-oxidants and oxidant loads. Whole organism experimental systems, in vitro systems, and gene and transcript level approaches have been combined. With respect to organisms, we have, for the last 10 years, emphasized mangroves, the intertidal trees which dominate tropical coastal ecosystems. We are currently in the process of using 454 pyrosequencing to sequence the transcriptome from three mangrove species with the goals of applying the results to ecosystem restoration studies, analysis of the fundamental basis for salt tolerance, and understanding the physiological underpinnings of seedling establishment.


Undergraduate and graduate students with interests in holistic approaches to physiology, ecology and climate change research in in environmentally-sensitive natural systems are welcome to contact me for research opportunities.


Cheeseman JM (2006) Hydrogen peroxide concentrations in leaves under natural conditions. Journal of Experiment Botany 57(10): 2435-2444.


Augspurger CK, Cheeseman JM, Salk CF. (2005) Light gains and physiological capacity of understory woody plants during phonological avoidance of canopy shade. Functional Ecology 19(4): 537-546.


Pearse IS, Heath KD, Cheeseman JM (2005) Biochemical and ecological characterization of two peroxidase isoenzymes from the mangrove, Rhizophora mangle. Plant Cell & Environment 28(5): 612-622.


Cheeseman, J. (2007) Hydrogen peroxide and plant stress: a challenging relationship. Plant Stress, 1, 4-15.


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


Cheeseman, J. M. & Lovelock, C. E. (2004) Photosynthetic characteristics of dwarf and fringe Rhizophora mangle in a Belizean mangrove. Plant Cell and Environment, 27, 769-780.


Kandil, F. E., Grace, M. H., Seigler, D. S. & Cheeseman, J. M. (2004) Polyphenolics in Rhizophora mangle L. leaves and their changes during leaf development and senescence. Trees, 18, 518-528.