New PhytologistVolume 215, Issue 2 p. 514-515 ProfileFree Access John A. Raven First published: 20 June 2017 https://doi.org/10.1111/nph.14651AboutSectionsPDF ToolsRequest permissionExport citationAdd to favoritesTrack citation ShareShare Give accessShare full text accessShare full-text accessPlease review our Terms and Conditions of Use and check box below to share full-text version of article.I have read and accept the Wiley Online Library Terms and Conditions of UseShareable LinkUse the link below to share a full-text version of this article with your friends and colleagues. Learn more.Copy URL Share a linkShare onFacebookTwitterLinkedInRedditWechat What inspired your interest in plant science? I was brought up on a farm in northwest Essex, UK, so was surrounded by cereal, legume, and root crops, and pastures, as well as ‘natural’ vegetation. I wanted to know more about them: what the plants in the ‘natural’ vegetation were, and especially how the plants worked. At my secondary school we had very good science teaching, and this was especially the case for biology, which was taught by a botany graduate, one Ken Plant (yes, really). At the University of Cambridge I followed the botany thread, but to keep my options open I also read chemistry. Options closed after a car accident (entirely my fault) just before the start of my second year, when I decided that invertebrate zoology was easier to follow from my hospital bed than advanced chemistry. This was, in retrospect, fortunate as I could not have succeeded in final year chemistry. The plant physiology teaching in the final year was excellent, with Enid MacRobbie and the late Martin Canny. I was especially drawn to Enid's approach and her research area. Why did you decide to pursue a career in research? I enjoyed the experimental work that I carried out as an undergraduate, and was delighted to be able to stay in Cambridge and carry out membrane biophysics and physiology work under the inspired supervision of Enid MacRobbie. Enid kept a close eye on what I was doing whilst giving me a lot of freedom in the direction that my research took. I was fortunate enough to be awarded a college research fellowship, giving me even more freedom, and was able to diversify into more biochemical and ecophysiological areas. When I had teaching responsibilities I had less time for research, but there were advantages in that I read outside my immediate research areas and I had interactions with students who asked perceptive, and sometimes naïve but still helpful, questions. Among the perceptive students in Cambridge was Lyn Jones, now an Emeritus Professor at Dundee University, and who continues to sharpen my arguments. Box 1. John A. Raven FRS FRSE is Emeritus Professor of Biology at the University of Dundee, UK, where he has been researching and teaching since 1971. John has a BA (1963) and PhD (1967) in Botany from the University of Cambridge where he also did post-doctoral work and was a fixed-term lecturer. He moved to the University of Dundee in 1971 and officially retired in 2008. John has published more than 370 peer-reviewed papers and over 50 book chapters; he has authored one book (1984) and co-authored another (1997, second edition 2007), and was Chair of the panel that produced the Royal Society of London report on Ocean Acidification in 2005. He has published on the membrane physiology, ecophysiology and biogeochemistry of marine, freshwater and terrestrial photosynthetic organisms since 1967. Other areas of his current research range from how photosynthetic light harvesting and photochemical reactions evolved, through colonization of the land by photosynthetic organisms in the Palaeozoic and earlier, to photosynthetic aspects of astrobiology. He has significant experience as an associate Editor of five journals. John is a member of the New Phytologist Board of Advisors. For more information, contact John at j.a.raven@dundee.ac.uk What motivates you to go to work on a day-to-day basis? My motivation is that I am obsessed with finding out how photosynthetic organisms work and how they evolved. There are several projects I want to continue to investigate in silico, and through collaboration with laboratory-based colleagues. I officially retired in 2008, and although I no longer have a laboratory or PhD students and post-doctorates, I still go into ‘work’ every day to the Division of Plant Sciences at the James Hutton Institute (JHI) in Dundee. It is good to interact with colleagues at the JHI and, additionally, the commute on foot to my office takes me past salt-marsh, seaweeds and, at the time of writing (early April), flowering Prunus spinosa. I can, of course, collaborate with my research colleagues in the rest of the UK, Australia, Italy, New Zealand and elsewhere, and access a wide range of journals, from anywhere with an internet connection. My Adjunct Professorship at the University of Western Australia, and a Visiting Professorship at the University of Technology Sydney (where I co-supervise a PhD student), mean that some of my day-to-day walks to work are in Crawley Western Australia and Ultimo New South Wales. Who do you see as your role model(s)? Confining my list to scientists I have known, foremost is Professor Enid MacRobbie FRS, who taught me as an undergraduate, and was my PhD supervisor; she emphasized the importance of rigorous experimental design and the importance, whenever possible, of quantitation in biology. Other staff at Cambridge University, such as Tom ap Rees and Martin Canny, were also formative, as were plant biophysicists at other institutions, such as Jack Dainty (Enid MacRobbie's PhD supervisor) and Alan Walker. In Dundee, Bill Stewart (now Sir William Stewart FRS) was influential in bringing a wide range of techniques together in addressing a particular problem, in his case nitrogen fixation. Another of my role models is John Monteith FRS. As a cocky sixth-form pupil in the late 1950s I wrote to John at Rothamsted pointing out that he had been dismissive of respiration in a radio talk he gave on what is now known as the Penman–Monteith equation. He replied with a two-page hand-written letter explaining, very kindly, about orders of magnitude and second-order effects. I have tried to be equally helpful to the school and university students that contact me – except when they want me to write an essay for them! John Monteith has kept me up to mark at intervals since then. Finally, in very different fields, there is the palaeobotanist Dianne Edwards who has constrained my wilder palaeoecophysiological speculations and the astronomer Ray Wolstencroft with whom I first published in astrobiology. What are your favourite New Phytologist papers of recent years, and why? All three of my choices deal with marine phytoplankton, with an emphasis on diatoms. Marine phytoplankton are responsible for almost half, and diatoms up to 20%, of global net primary productivity. Marine diatoms have been subject to research involving a great range of techniques on, for example, the mechanism of inorganic carbon uptake and assimilation. Despite this, questions still remain, and the papers I have chosen make significant advances in our understanding of the marine environment. Losh et al. (2013) investigated Rubisco (ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase-oxygenase) protein as a fraction of total protein in eight species of marine phytoplankton as a function of phylogeny and growth conditions, finding a range of values from 2% to 6%. These values, granted the range of kinetic values of marine photoplankton Rubisco, require CO2 concentrating mechanisms (CCMs) if photosynthetic and growth rates are to be explained. Young et al. (2014) investigated the kinetics of Rubisco from Antarctic phytoplankton, focussing on the diatom Fragilariopsis cylindrus, showing that the growth rate was constrained by the Rubisco content, even if the enzyme was fully activated and saturated with CO2 using a CCM. Finally Clements et al. (2016) addressed the vexed question of the acquisition and assimilation of inorganic carbon by the diatom Thalassiosira pseudonana, and particularly the possible contribution of C4 photosynthetic biochemistry. Clements et al. (2016) conclude that, under their conditions, C4 biochemistry made a negligible contribution to photosynthesis. While these papers make very significant advances, further investigation is needed. References Clements R, Dimnet L, Maberly SC, Gontero B. 2016. The nature of the CO2-concentrating mechanisms in a marine diatom. New Phytologist 209: 1417– 1427. Losh JL, Young JN, Morel FMM. 2013. Rubisco is a small fraction of total protein in marine phytoplankton. New Phytologist 118: 52– 58. Young JN, Goldman JAL, Kranz SA, Tortell PD, Morel FMM. 2014. Slow carboxylation of Rubisco constrains the rate of carbon fixation during Antarctic phytoplankton blooms. New Phytologist 205: 172– 181. Volume215, Issue2July 2017Pages 514-515 ReferencesRelatedInformation

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