Prof. Howard Griffiths

Professor at Dept. of Plant Sciences, Uni. of Cambridge

Prof. Howard Griffiths is a physiological ecologist. Prof Griffiths has always been intrigued by the photosynthetic physiology of the organismal awkward squad, and the selection pressures which have lead to a variety of carbon dioxide concentrating mechanisms (CCM), which enhance the operating efficiency of Rubisco (the only enzyme capable of net CO2 fixation). These include the biochemical C4 pathway (in maize, miscanthus and sugar cane), crassulacean acid metabolism, (CAM, in succulents such as Agave, Orchids and Bromeliads), or the biophysical CCM (in algae, cyanobacteria and hornworts). Prof Griffiths’ lab uses table isotopes (13C and 18O) as markers of photosynthetic gas exchanges to compare processes which have shaped the evolution of photosynthesis in terrestrial and aquatic plants. Currently the lab research focuses on the structure, function and molecular determinants of the chloroplast pyrenoid, associated with the activity of a biophysical CCM in aquatic algae and hornworts, as a means to enhance higher plant productivity.