Kathleen Donohue

Professor of Biology

130 Science Drive, Room 226, Duke Box 90338, Durham, NC 27708
Campus Box: 
Box 90338, Durham, NC 27708-0338
(919) 684-6095
We investigate the genetic basis of adaptation, including the evolution of phenotypic plasticity and maternal effects, the adaptive value of epigenetic modifications, niche construction, dispersal, and mechanisms of multilevel natural selection.


  • Ph.D., The University of Chicago 1993

  • M.S., The University of Chicago 1988

  • B.S., Stanford University 1985

  • B.A., Stanford University 1985

  • M.S., Stanford University 1985

Donohue, Kathleen. Darwin's Finches Readings in the Evolution of a Scientific Paradigm. University of Chicago Press, 2011.

Donohue, K. “Genotype-by-Environment Interaction.” In Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Biology, 186–94, 2016. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-800049-6.00049-4. Full Text

Donohue, K. “Genotype-environment interaction, In "Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Biology".” edited by J. Wolf. Elsevier, 2015.

Donohue, K. “Development in the Wild: Phenotypic Plasticity.” In The Evolution of Plant Form, 45:321–55, 2012. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118305881.ch10. Full Text

Donohue, Kathleen. “Some Evolutionary Consequences of Niche Construction with Genotype-Environment Interaction.” In Adaptation and Fitness in Animal Populations, 131–49. Springer Netherlands, 2009. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-9005-9_9. Full Text

Shaw, E. C., R. Fowler, S. Ohadi, M. J. Bayly, R. A. Barrett, J. Tibbits, A. Strand, et al. “Explaining the worldwide distributions of two highly mobile species: Cakile edentula and Cakile maritima.” Journal of Biogeography 48, no. 3 (March 1, 2021): 603–15. https://doi.org/10.1111/jbi.14024. Full Text

Wang, X., M. Alvarez, K. Donohue, W. Ge, Y. Cao, K. Liu, G. Du, and H. Bu. “Elevation filters seed traits and germination strategies in the eastern Tibetan Plateau.” Ecography 44, no. 2 (February 1, 2021): 242–54. https://doi.org/10.1111/ecog.04972. Full Text

Alvarez, Mariano, Andrew Bleich, and Kathleen Donohue. “Genotypic variation in the persistence of transgenerational responses to seasonal cues.Evolution; International Journal of Organic Evolution 74, no. 10 (October 2020): 2265–80. https://doi.org/10.1111/evo.13996. Full Text

Auge, Gabriela A., Steven Penfield, and Kathleen Donohue. “Pleiotropy in developmental regulation by flowering-pathway genes: is it an evolutionary constraint?The New Phytologist 224, no. 1 (October 2019): 55–70. https://doi.org/10.1111/nph.15901. Full Text

D’Aguillo, Michelle C., Brianne R. Edwards, and Kathleen Donohue. “Can the Environment have a Genetic Basis? A Case Study of Seedling Establishment in Arabidopsis thaliana.The Journal of Heredity 110, no. 4 (July 2019): 467–78. https://doi.org/10.1093/jhered/esz019. Full Text

Stinson, Kristina, Lauren Carley, Laura Hancock, and Kathleen Donohue. “Effects of maternal source and progeny microhabitat on natural selection and population dynamics in Alliaria petiolata.American Journal of Botany 106, no. 6 (June 4, 2019): 821–32. https://doi.org/10.1002/ajb2.1299. Full Text

Donohue, Kathleen. “Multi-tasking as an ancient skill: When one gene does many things well.Molecular Ecology 28, no. 5 (March 2019): 917–19. https://doi.org/10.1111/mec.15003. Full Text

Donohue, Kathleen. “The Snail's Charm.The American Naturalist 193, no. 2 (February 2019): 149–63. https://doi.org/10.1086/700960. Full Text

Vayda, Katherine, Kathleen Donohue, and Gabriela Alejandra Auge. “Within- and trans-generational plasticity: seed germination responses to light quantity and quality.Aob Plants 10, no. 3 (June 2018): ply023. https://doi.org/10.1093/aobpla/ply023. Full Text Open Access Copy

Martel, Catherine, Logan K. Blair, and Kathleen Donohue. “PHYD prevents secondary dormancy establishment of seeds exposed to high temperature and is associated with lower PIL5 accumulation.Journal of Experimental Botany 69, no. 12 (May 2018): 3157–69. https://doi.org/10.1093/jxb/ery140. Full Text


Selected Grants

Epigenetic stability and its evolutionary potential awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2016 to 2022

Genetics Training Grant awarded by National Institutes of Health (Mentor). 1979 to 2020

DISSERTATION RESEARCH: The Phenotypic and Genetic Basis of Facilitation and Competition in Plants awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2015 to 2018

The Genetic Basis and Adaptive Significance of Pleiotropy: FLC-Regulated Germination and Flowering awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2012 to 2017

DISSERTATION RESEARCH: Predicting Plant Life-Cycles in Changing Environments awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2013 to 2016

DISSERTATION RESEARCH: Adaptive divergence and the evolution of reproductive isolation across the genus Cakile (Brassi awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2010 to 2013

The Physiological Basis of Natural Variation in Germination Responses of Arabidopsis Thaliana awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2008 to 2012