Station Director


Rutgers University Pinelands Field Station, PO Box 206, New Lisbon, NJ 08064
Tel: 609-894-8864; Fax: 609-894-0472; E-mail

Research Interests:

I am interested in forest soil ecology. I spent many years investigating nutrient requirements of plantation forests, especially fast growing trees and interactions of forest trees with mycorrhizal fungi. After the nuclear accident at Chernobyl, I became interested in the role of fungi in radionuclide acquisition and impacts of radionuclides on fungi. I have continued these lines of investigation and expanded my interests in the role of fungi in ecosystem processes since starting at Rutgers.


1973-76 Ph.D. Queen Elizabeth College, University of London
1972-73 M.Sc. Ecology, University of Durham 1969-72
B.Sc. General (External London) 2(i), North East London Polytechnic

Professional Positions:

1994 - Director, Division of Pinelands Research, Professor, Institute of Marine & Coastal Sciences (Cook) Department of Biology (Camden), Rutgers University.

1980 - 1993 Research Scientist, Institute of Terrestrial Ecology, Merlewood Research Station, UK

1977 - 1979 Teacher of Biology, St. Olave’s Grammar School, Orpington Kent, UK.

Rutgers Affiliations: Split appointment between the Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences, Cook College, New Brunswick and Department of Biology , Camden Campus.

Member of the Biology Department, Camden Graduate Program and Ecology and Evolution Graduate Program, Cook College, New Brunswick

Member of the Faculty Senate Camden Campus


Editorial Board Mycological Research

Editorial Board Soil Biology and Biochemistry

Editorial Board of Bartonia

Board of Trustees and Education Committee Pinelands Preservation Alliance .

Pinelands Commission Research Advisory Committee

Board of Trustees, Executive Board and Education Committee, New Jersey Academy of Aquatic Sciences

Awards: Excellence in Graduate Teaching: The Graduate School Rutgers New Brunswick

Peer Review: Research grants for NERC, NSF, USDA, Israel Department of Science, NERC, CERC. Journals: New Phytologist, Mycological Research, Mycologia, Mycorrhiza, Journal of Applied Ecology, Canadian Journal of Forest Research, Scandanavian Journal of Forest Research, Environmental Pollution, Soil Biology & Biochemistry, Plant & Soil, Applied Spectroscopy, Castanea, Australian Journal of Botany, Forest Ecology and Management

Member of:

Ecological Society of America

Mycological Society of America

British Mycological Society

New JerseyMycology Association

Soil Ecology Society ( President 2011-2013)

John Dighton's Recent Publications


Geng, Y., Dighton, J., Gray, D. (2012) The effects of thinning and soil disturbance on enzyme activities under pitch pine soil in New Jersey Pinelands Applied Soil Ecology 62 (2012) 1– 7

Dighton, J., Helmisaari, H.-S., Maghirang, M., Smith, S., Malcolm, K., Johnson, W., Quast, L.,
Lallier, B., Gray, D., Setälä, H., Starr, M., Luiro, J., Kukkola, M. (2012) Impacts of forest post thinning residues on soil chemistry, fauna and roots: Implications of residue removal in Finland.
Applied Soil Ecology 60 (2012) 16– 22. Corrigendum: Applied Soil Ecology 62 (2012) 184

Gray, D.M., Swanson, J., Dighton, J. (2010) The influence of contrasting ground cover vegetation on soil properties in the NJ pine barrens. Applied Soil Ecology 60 (2012) 41– 48

Crane, S., Barkay, T. Dighton, J. (2012) The effect of mercury on the establishment of Pinus rigida seedlings and the development of their Ectomycorrhizal communities. Fungal Ecology 5: 245-251.

Oberle-Kilic, J., Dighton, J., Arbuckle-Keil, G. (2012) Chemical characterization starch and starch:lignin filma using micro-attenuated Total Rweflectance Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (micro-ATR FTIR) Trends in Biomaterials and Artificial Organs 26 (2) 107-109


Karpati, A. S., Handel, S. N., Dighton, J. & Horton, T. (2011) /Quercus rubra/-associated ectomycorrhizal fungal communities of disturbed urban sites and mature forests. /Mycorrhiza/ 21:537–547 (DOI 10.1007/s00572-011-0362-6)

Landesman, W. & Dighton, J. (2011) Shifts in microbial biomass and bacteria:fungi ratio occur under field conditions within 3h after rainfall. / Microb. Ecol /. DOI 10.1007/s00248-011-9811-1

Zinati, G. M., Dighton, J. & Both, A-J. (2011) Fertilizer, irrigation, and natural ericaceous root and soil inoculums (NERS): effects on container-grown ericaceous nursery crop biomass, tissue nutrient concentration, and leachate nutrient quality. / HortScience / *46*; 799-807.

Dighton, J. (2011) Mycorrhiza In: M. Schaechter (ed) Eukaryotic Microbes, Academic Press. Pp. 73-83

Wang, Y., Boyd, E., Crane, S., Lu-Irving, P., Krabbenhoft, D., King, S., Dighton, J., Geesey, G. & Barkay, T. (2011) Environmental conditions constrain the distribution and diversity of Archaeal /merA/ in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, U.S.A. / Microb. Ecol /. *62*: 739-752.


Di Leo, K., Donat, K., Min-Venditti, A. & Dighton, J. (2010) Chytrid abundance and ecological integrity in New Jersey pine barrens waters and possible contributory environmental factors. Fungal Ecology 3: 295-301.

Landesman, W. J. & Dighton, J. (2010). Response of soil microbial communities and the production of plant-available nitrogen to a two-year rainfall manipulation in the New Jersey Pinelands. Soil Biol. Biochem. doi:10.1016/j.soilbio.2010.06.012

Crane, S., Dighton, J. & Barkay, T. (2010) Growth responses to and accumulation of mercury by ectomycorrhizal fungi. Fungal Biol. 114: 873-880.

Lee, K. & Dighton, J. (2010) Neurospora, a potential fungal organism for experimental and evolutionary ecology. Fungal Biology Reviews doi:10.1016/j.fbr.2010.09.001

Landesman, W. J., Treonis, A. M. & Dighton, J. (2010) Effects of a one-year rainfall manipulation on nematode abundancies and community composition. Pedobiologia doi:10.1016/j.pedobi.2010.10.002


Gray, D.M. and Dighton, J. (2009) Nutrient utilization by pine seedlings and soil microbes in oligotrophic pine barrens forest soils subjected to prescribed fire treatment. Soil Biology & Biochemistry. doi:10.1016/j.soilbio.2009.06.021

Krumins, J.A., Dighton, J., Gray, D.M., Franklin, R., Morin, P.J., Roberts, M. S. (2009) Soil microbial community response to nitrogen enrichment in two scrub oak forests. Forest Ecology and Management. doi:10.1016/j.foreco.2009.06.046 2008

Lammers, K., Dighton, J. & Arbuckle-Keil, G. A. (2009) FT-IR study of the changes in carbohydrate chemistry of three New Jersey pine barrens leaf litters during simulated control burning. Soil Biol. Biochem. 41: 340-347.

Dighton, J. (2009) Evaluation of Mycorrhizal Symbioses as Defense in Extreme Environments. In; White, J. F. & Torres, M. (Eds.) Defensive Mutualism in Microbial Symbiosis CRC Press

Dighton, J. (2009) Mycorrhizae In: (Moselio Schaechter, Editor), Encyclopedia of Microbiology, Elesevier, pp. 153-162.


Nix-Stohr, S., Moshe, R. & Dighton, J. (2008). Effects of propagule density and survival strategies on establishment and growth: further invetsigations in the phylloplane fungal model system. Microbial Ecology.  55:38-44.

Dighton, J. (2008). Mycorrhizae. In: Schaechter, M. (Ed). Encylopedia of Microbiology: Third Edition. Elsevier SanDiego, CA

Dighton, J. Tugay, T. & Zhdanova, N. N. (2008). Interactions of fungi and radionuclides in soil. In: Dion, P. and Nautiyal, C. S. (Eds). Microbioogy of Extreme Soils. Berlin Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag; 2008; pp. 333-355.

Dighton, J. Tugay, T. & Zhdanova, N. N. (2008). Fungi and ionizing radiation from radionuclides. FEMS Microbial Letters. 281: 109-120.


Dighton, J. (2007) Nutrient cycling by saprotrophic fungi in terrestrial habitats. In: Kubicek, C. P. & Druzhinina, I. S. (Ed.) The Mycota IV Environmental and Microbial Relationships (2nd Edn.) Springer-Verlag, Berlin Heidelberg, pp. 287-300.


Jonsson, L. M., Dighton, J., Lussenhop, J. & Koide, R. T. (2006) The effect of mixing ground leaf litters to soil on the development of pitch pine ectomycorrhizal and soil arthropod communities in natural soil microcosm systems. Soil Biol. Biochem. 38:134-144

Gray, D.M. and Dighton, J. 2006. Mineralization of forest litter nutrients by heat and combustion. Soil Biol. & Biochem. 38:1469-1477.

Karpenko, Y. V.; Redchitz, T. I.; Zheltonozhsky, V. A.; Dighton, J., & Zhdanova, N. N. (2006) Comparative responses of microscopic fungi to ionizing radiation and light. Folia Microbiol. 51:45-49.

Tugay, T., Zhdanova, N. N., Zheltonozhsky, V., Sadovnikov, L., Dighton, J. (2006) The influence of ionizing radiation on spore germination and emergent hyphal growth response reactions of microfungi. Mycologia 98: 521-527.


Baxter, J. W. & Dighton, J. (2005) Phosphorus source alters host plant response to ectomycorrhizal diversity. Mycorrhiza 15: 513-523.

Dighton, J., White, J. F. Jr. & Oudemans, P. (eds) (2005) The Fungal Community: Its Organization and Role in the Ecosystem. CRC Press. 936 pp.

Dighton, J., White, J. F. Jr. & Oudemans, P. (2005) Introduction. In: The Fungal Community: Its Organization and Role in the Ecosystem. Dighton, J., White, J. F. Jr. & Oudemans, P. (eds), CRC Press. 1-9

Baxter, J. W. & Dighton, J. (2005) Diversity-functioning relationships in ectomycorrhizal fungal communities. In: The Fungal Community: Its Organization and Role in the Ecosystem. Dighton, J., White, J. F. Jr. & Oudemans, P. (eds), CRC Press. 383-398.


Tuininga, A. R. & Dighton, J. (2004) Changes in ectomycorrhizal communities and nutrient availability following prescribed burning in two upland pine-oak forests in the New Jersey Pine Barrens. Can. J. For. Res. 43: 1755-1765.

Mc Hugh, J. M. & Dighton, J. (2004) Influence of mycorrhizal inoculation, inundation period, salinity and phosphorus availability on the growth of two salt marsh grasses, Spartina alterniflora Lois. and Spartina cynosuroides (L.) Roth. in nursery systems. Rest. Ecol. 12: 533-545.

Zhdanova, N. N., Tugay, T., Dighton, J., Zheltonozhsky, V. & McDermott, P. (2004) Ionizing radiation attracts fungi. Mycol. Res. 108: 1089 – 1096.

Dighton, J., Tuininga, A. R., Gray, D. M., Huskins, R. E. & Belton, T. (2004) Impacts of atmospheric deposition on New Jersey pine barrens forest soils and communities of ectomycorrhizae. For. Ecol. Manage. 201: 131-144.

Garnett, E., Jonsson, L. M., Dighton, J. & Murnen, K. (2004) Control of pitch pine seed germination and initial growth exerted by leaf litters and polyphenoloic compounds. Biol. Fert. Soils 40: 421-426.

Dighton, J. (2004) Book Review: Biodiversity of Fungi: Inventory and Monitoring Methods. Mycotaxon 90: 217-220.

Stohr, S, N. & Dighton, J (2004) Effects of Species Diversity on Establishment and Coexistence: A Phylloplane Fungal Community Model System Microb. Ecol. 48: 431-438.


Dighton, J. (2003) The Role of Fungi in Ecosystem Processes, Marcel Dekker


Address: P.O. Box 206, 501 Four Mile Road, New Lisbon, NJ 08064 • Phone: (609) 894-8849 FAX: (609) 894-0472