Joanna Tannous Profile

Joanna Tannous

R&D Associate Staff Scientist- Fungal Geneticist

Joanna joined ORNL in 2020 as a postdoctoral research associate. In December 2022, she transitioned to become an Associate Staff Scientist serving as a fungal geneticist for the Secure Ecosystem Engineering and Design (SEED) SFA. For her current position, Joanna is working on developing CRISPR systems for the control of fungal plant pathogens associated with Populus. She is associated with the Synthetic Biology group within the Biosciences Division and the Biological and Environmental Systems Science Directorate at ORNL. As a fungal geneticist, Joanna specializes in developing genome editing tools in non-model fungal species to elucidate the molecular mechanisms and pathways regulating fungal pathogenicity, metabolism, and the interaction of the fungus with its host and surrounding microbial communities. Her research is also focused on the discovery and characterization of novel fungal metabolites through genetic manipulation and “-omics” approaches to study their role in fungal-host interactions and microbiome dynamics. She had previous postdoctoral appointments at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Horticulture and Seed Research Institute (IRHS), University of Angers, France. Joanna is a member of the Genetic Society of America (GSA) and American Society for Microbiology (ASM) and has been a guest editor for Frontiers in Fungal Biology since 2020. Joanna has earned her Ph.D. in Pathology, Toxicology, Genetics, and Nutrition from the National Polytechnic Institute of Toulouse (INPT), Toulouse, France, and a second Ph.D. in Chemistry from St. Joseph University, Lebanon. For her Ph.D. dissertation, Joanna worked on developing a transformation system to genetically modify the postharvest plant pathogen, Penicillium expansum. This allowed her to characterize various secondary metabolite biosynthetic gene clusters and virulence factors in this organism. From St. Joseph university, Joanna has also earned a master’s degree in Food Chemistry and a bachelor’s degree in Life and Earth Sciences and Biochemistry.