Faculty & Staff

Nancy J. Berner

Provost of the University and William Henderson Professor of Biology
B.S., M.S., University of Idaho; Ph.D., Stanford University

Environmental Physiology, Biochemistry



Winter activity and acclimation in the Eastern red spotted newt
including changes in:

  • Enzyme activity
  • Gene expression in key enzymes
  • Membrane remodeling
  • Effects of diet on membrane composition and membrane function
  • Cardiolipin fatty acyl content
  • Timing of acclimation
  • Acclimation environmental trigger
  • Monitor plasma hormone levels
  • Behavioral thermoregulation
  • Metabolic rate

My students and I approach these questions using the following methods:

  • Spectrophotometric enzyme assays
  • Quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR)
  • Gas chromatograph (GC)
  • High performance liquid chromatography (HPLC)
  • Liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS)
  • Transmission electron microscopy (TEM)


(* denotes undergraduate coauthor)

Berner, N.J., J.R. Bullock*, W.G. Jerome, T.R. Marquand*, and C.L. Waldrup. 2013. Tissue-specific acclimation of enzyme activity in the Eastern red spotted newt (Notophthalmus viridescens viridescens) In Press: Trends in Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology.

Berner, N.J., L.A. Heil* and L.M. Romero. 2013. Seasonal variation in corticosterone in free-living and captive Eastern red spotted newts Notophthalmus viridescens viridescens. In Press: Journal of Herpetology.

Pannorfi*, R., B.M. Zee*, I. Vatnick*, N.J. Berner and S.M. Hiebert, 2012. Dietary liid saturation influences environmental temperature preference but not resting metabolic rate in the Djungarian hamster (Phodopus sungorus). Physiological and Biochemical Zoology. 85(4):405 - 414.

Berner, N.J. and R.E. Puckett.* 2010. Phenotypic flexibility and thermoregulatory behavior in the Eastern red spotted newt (Notophthalmus viridescens viridescens).Journal of Experimental Zoology. 313A:231-239.

Hart, F.X., J.H. Johnson* and N.J. Berner. 2010. Using impedence spectroscopy to monitor the regeneration of newt tails. Journal of Non-Crystalline Solids. 356:725 – 729.

Berner, N.J., P.L. Else, A.J. Hulbert, B. Mantle, R.L. Cramp and C.E. Franklin. 2009. Metabolic depression during estivation does not involve remodeling of membrane fatty acids in two Australian frogs. Journal of Comparative Physiology B. 179(7): 857 – 866. DOI 10.1007/s00360-009-0368-y

Hart, F.X., J.H. Johnson* and N.J. Berner. 2007. Impedence Spectroscopy of Newt Tails.IFMBE Proceedings, 16 190-193 (2007).

Berner, N.J. and E.P. Bessay.* 2006. Correlation of seasonal acclimatization in metabolic enzyme activity with preferred body temperature in the Easter red spotted newt (Notophthalmus viridescens viridescens). Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology A. 144/4: 429 – 436.

Hart, F.X., E.E. Davila-Moriel*, N.J. Berner and R.L. McMillen.* 2005. Using dielectric spectroscopy to detect thermal hysteresis in frog muscle. Journal of Non-Crystalline Solids. 351 (issues 33-36): 2929-2934.

Berner, N.J. 1999. Oxygen consumption by mitochondria from an endotherm and an ectotherm. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology B. 124: 25-31.

Berner, N.J., D.A. Grahn and H.C. Heller. 1999. 8-OH-DPAT-Sensitive neurons in the nucleus raphe magnus modulate thermoregulatory output in rats. Brain Research. 831:155-164.

Hart, F.X., N.J. Berner and R.L. McMillen.* 1999. Modeling the anisotropic electrical properties of skeletal muscle. Physics in Medicine and Biology. 44: 413-421.

Berner, N.J., and H.C. Heller. 1998. Does the preoptic anterior hypothalamus receive thermoafferent information? Am.J. Physiol. 274:R9-R18.

Hart, F.X., R.B. Toll, N.J. Berner, and N.H. Bennett.* 1996. The Low-Frequency Dielectric Properties of Octopus Arm Muscle Measured in vivo. Physics in Medicine and Biology. 41: 2043-2052.

Ingermann, R.L., N.J. Berner, and F.R. Ragsdale. 1991. Changes in red cell ATP concentration and oxygen-affinity following birth in the neonatal garter snake Thamnophis elegansJ. exp. Biol. 157:579-584.

Ingermann, R.L., N.J. Berner, and F.R. Ragsdale. 1991. Effect of pregnancy and temperature on red cell oxygen-affinity in the viviparous snake Thamnophis elegansJ. exp. Biol. 156:399-406.

Berner, N.J., and R.L. Ingermann. 1990. Role of sialic acid in exogenous protein accumulation and water retention by the egg jelly of the salamander Ambystoma macrodactylumJ. Exp. Zool. 256:38-43.

Berner, N.J., and R.L. Ingermann. 1988. Molecular basis of the difference in oxygen affinity between maternal and foetal red blood cells in the viviparous garter snakeThamnophis elegansJ. exp. Biol. 140:437-453.

Berner, N.J., and R.L. Ingermann. 1988. Interaction of exogenous proteins with the jelly coat of eggs from the salamander, Ambystoma macrodactylumComp. Biochem. Physiol.90A:265-268.


National Science Foundation award IOS-1120448: "Acclimation in the Eastern red spotted newt" $400,000 Aug 2011 - Aug 2015.

Named to the William Henderson Chair of Biology in the Department of Biology at the University of the South, October 2009.

Visiting Principal Fellow, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, New South Wales 2522, Australia 1 August, 2005 to 1 August, 2006.

Chair, Department of Biology, Sewanee: The University of the South July 1999 – June 2004

Visiting Research Faculty, Department of Biology, Faculty of Sciences and Genetics, University of Laval, Ste. Foy, Quebec, Canada. Fall 1998.

Appalachian College Association fellowship “Learning techniques and applying them to determining the effects of seasonal acclimatization on membrane properties of the Eastern red spotted newt (Notophthalmus viridescens viridescens)” in the amount of $28,240 for July, 2005 – June, 2006.

National Science Foundation award “POWRE: Learning and application of new methods to the study of mitochondrial heat generating mechanisms in endothermic and ectothermic vertebrates” in the amount of $68,000 for July 15, 1998 - Dec 31, 2000.

Appalachian College Association fellowship “New methods for investigating heat generating mechanisms of endothermic and ectothermic vertebrates” in the amount of $10,000 for Aug - Dec 1998.

National Science Foundation Research Planning Grant (NSF RPG) in the amount of $17,980 for 8/95 - 2/97. Rated highest priority for funding.