Kenneth Jeffries
Photo of Kenneth Jeffries

Assistant Professor

Office W363 Duff Roblin

Environmental and anthropogenic stressors can disrupt homeostasis and negatively affect aquatic organisms, potentially leading to impacts on growth, reproduction and survival over time. The focus of my research is to investigate how various environmental and contaminant stressors can affect an individual's fitness through examination of responses at cellular, tissue and whole organism levels of biological organization, and how these responses can potentially scale up to population level consequences. I use genomics techniques to characterize the cellular responses of fishes to abiotic (e.g., temperature, salinity), biotic (e.g., pathogens) and anthropogenic (e.g., wastewater, endocrine disrupting compounds, pesticides, pharmaceuticals) stressors relevant to aquatic ecosystems. I integrate these cellular level responses with tissue or whole organism level performance indices to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the effects of exposure to environmental stressors and to address whether populations and species can persist in changing or disturbed aquatic environments. This work has focused on non-model fishes that are economically important, invasive or of conservation concern and combines approaches used in the fields of physiology, ecological genomics, fish ecology and ecotoxicology. I have recently begun examining how exposure to environmental stressors affects the expression of immune response genes and increases the susceptibility of stressed individuals to pathogen infections, a potentially significant and undetected cause of fish mortality in disturbed ecosystems. I am moving towards using next generation sequencing approaches to examine how genome variation leads to different phenotypic responses to aid in predicting which populations and species will be able to tolerate future changes in environmental conditions. Because of the widespread influence of climate change, environmental disturbances and the impacts of human activity on ecosystems, much of this research is applicable for studying aquatic systems throughout North America.

Selected Publications

Jeffries, Ken M, Connon, Richard E, Davis, Brittany E, Komoroske, Lisa M, Britton, Monica T, Sommer, Ted, Todgham, Anne E and Fangue, Nann A (2016). Effects of high temperatures on threatened estuarine fishes during periods of extreme drought. Journal of Experimental Biology 219 (11), 1705–1716.

Komoroske, Lisa M, Connon, Richard E, Jeffries, Ken M and Fangue, Nann A (2015). Linking transcriptional responses to organismal tolerance reveals mechanisms of thermal sensitivity in a mesothermal endangered fish. Molecular Ecology 24 (19), 4960–4981.

Jeffries, Ken M, Hinch, Scott G, Gale, Marika Kirstin, Clark, Timothy D, Lotto, Andrew G, Casselman, Matthew T, Li, Shaorong, Rechisky, Erin L, Porter, Aswea D, Welch, David W and et al. (2014). Immune response genes and pathogen presence predict migration survival in wild salmon smolts. Molecular Ecology 23 (23), 5803–5815.

Jeffries, Ken M, Hinch, Scott G, Sierocinski, Thomas, Pavlidis, Paul and Miller, Kristi M (2014). Transcriptomic responses to high water temperature in two species of Pacific salmon. Evolutionary Applications 7 (2), 286–300.

Research Interests

Biodiversity, Ecology and Environment, Physiology, Molecular Ecology, Transcriptomics, Conservation Physiology, Threatened Fishes, Ecotoxicology

Recent Publications

  • Brander, Susanne M, Jeffries, Ken M, Cole, Bryan J, DeCourten, Bethany M, White, J Wilson, Hasenbein, Simone, Fangue, Nann A and Connon, Richard E (2016). Transcriptomic changes underlie altered egg protein production and reduced fecundity in an estuarine model fish exposed to bifenthrin. Aquatic Toxicology 174, 247–260.
  • Clark, Timothy D, Furey, Nathan B, Rechisky, Erin L, Gale, Marika K, Jeffries, Ken M, Porter, Aswea D, Casselman, Matthew T, Lotto, Andrew G, Patterson, David A, Cooke, Steven J and et al. (2016). Tracking wild sockeye salmon smolts to the ocean reveals distinct regions of nocturnal movement and high mortality. Ecological Applications 26 (4), 959–978.
  • Cole, Bryan J, Brander, Susanne M, Jeffries, Ken M, Hasenbein, Simone, He, Guochun, Dennison, Michael S, Fangue, Nann A and Connon, Richard E (2016). Changes in Menidia beryllina gene expression and in vitro hormone receptor activation after exposure to estuarine waters near treated wastewater outfalls. Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 71, 210–223.
  • Jeffries, Ken M, Connon, Richard E, Davis, Brittany E, Komoroske, Lisa M, Britton, Monica T, Sommer, Ted, Todgham, Anne E and Fangue, Nann A (2016). Effects of high temperatures on threatened estuarine fishes during periods of extreme drought. Journal of Experimental Biology 219 (11), 1705–1716.
  • Komoroske, Lisa M, Jeffries, Ken M, Connon, Richard E, Dexter, Jason, Hasenbein, Matthias, Verhille, Christine and Fangue, Nann A (2016). Sublethal salinity stress contributes to habitat limitation in an endangered estuarine fish. Evolutionary Applications 9 (8), 963–981.

→ See more publications


We are recruiting 2 motivated PhD students to join the laboratories of Drs. Jason Treberg and Ken Jeffries at the University of Manitoba to develop new tools for monitoring how Walleye populations in Lake Winnipeg respond to environmental change (i.e., temperature, pathogen exposure, toxins, alterations in community structure) and how physiological indices relate to animal movement in large lake ecosystems.

Upcoming Seminars

General seminar: Alberto Civetta: “Genes, Sex and Phenotypes: The mechanisms and genetic basis of hybrid male sterility in Drosophila” — Friday, November 24 at 3:30 p.m., 527 Buller.

General seminar: Workshop - Open Access Publishing Options — Monday, November 27 at 12:30 p.m., 304 Biological Sciences.

General seminar: Dr. Kyle Elliott: “From individuals to populations: using energetics to link processes across ecological scales” — Thursday, November 30 at 11 a.m., 201 BSB.

General seminar: Crackerjack Seminar -Hagit Peretz — Friday, December 1 at 3:30 p.m., 527 Buller.