Barry Pogson



Barry Pogson completed his PhD in 1992 at Macquarie University and CSIRO. He moved to the USA in 1994 working as a postdoc with Dean DellaPenna at Arizona and Nevada before taking an Assistant Professorship at Arizona State University in 1997. He moved to ANU late 1999.

Evidence of the impact of his research into carotenoids, photosynthesis and drought are awards (listed below), eleven articles have been in the top 1% in their field for citations, and a series of grants, most notably the ARC Centre of Excellence for Plant Energy Biology. In 2008 he joined The Plant Cell Editorial Board and co-organised the Boden Conference on Plant Energy and Water Productivity. He was the Chair of the 2013 International Arabidopsis Conference, which was held in Sydney, Australia.

His group has received six national and international awards for research excellence, and numerous awards for teaching and supervision excellence. Six students have received University medals and/or awards for their honours thesis in the past eight years.

  • Lab awards
  • ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology
    A a group of students, postdocs, research asstiants and chief investigators at ANU, University of Western Australia and Flinders University. The Chief Investigators are Badger, Day, Millar, Pogson, Small, Tyerman and Whelan. The Centre offers Honours scholarships ($6K) and top-up scholarships for PhD students ($7K), in addition to well funded research, conference travel and graduate training programs. 


Research interests

Signaling between the chloroplast and nucleus

Plant cell signalling diagram

The overarching theme of our research is to determine the controls and regulators of communication between the chloroplast and nucleus. This includes discovery of genes and metabolites involved in epigenetics, RNA metabolism, chloroplast-nuclear signaling, carotenoid biosynthesis, photosynthesis and drought.

The research program is an integral component of the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology. The Centre offers Honours scholarships ($6K) and top-up scholarships for PhD students ($7K), in addition to well funded research, conference travel and graduate training programs.

1. Signaling during chloroplast development

  • First demonstration of a role for the cytoskeleton and a novel cytoskeleton-associated protein in chloroplast biogenesis (Albrecht et al 2010, Plant Cell). Elucidation of a mechanism for photosystem assembly that requires lipid vesicles and a protein disulphide isomerase that folds light harvesting and other photosystem proteins (Tanz et al. 2011, Plant Journal).
Science Signalling Cover

2. Identification of the first signal to move from the chloroplast to the nucleus

  • We are studying the mechanisms by which plants perceive and respond to drought and excess light. Recently, we uncovered a molecule that moves between the chloroplast and nucleus to regulate gene expression. The key publication is Estavillo et al 2011, Plant Cell, which builds upon Marin et al 2011 Plos One, Wilson et al. 2009 Plant J. and Rossel et al 2006.

3. Intersection of drought and high light signaling

  • Demonstration of a role for the ER and an ER processing protein in chloroplast-nuclear communication, specifically in response to drought (Che et al. 2010, Science Signaling)
  • Commercial outputs. The knowledge of the SAL-PAP retrograde pathway has been published (Rossel et al. 2006, PCE Wilson et al. 2009, Plant Journal), patented and is being applied to the development of drought tolerant wheat in collaboration with CSIRO and GRDC and in Canola with Pacific Seeds via an ARC Linkage grant.
    Also see Gonzalo Estavillo's web page.

4. Epigenetic regulation of carotenoid biosynthesis

  • Carotenoids, such as beta-carotene, are essential for photosynthesis, dietary vitamin A and as antioxidants offer protection against certain cancers and age-related blindness. We made the first identification of an epigenetic regulator of carotenoid biosynthesis. Communication between the chloroplast and nucleus occurs in both directions and a seminal finding was the identification of a histone methylation transferase that regulates specific enzymes required for carotenoid biosynthesis, flowering time and hormone synthesis in the chloroplast. Future goals are to elucidate the epigenetic controls and identify novel carotenoid-derived retrograde signals produced from carotenoids that regulate nuclear gene expression and plant development. See Cazzonelli et al. 2009 Plant Cell and Cazzonelli web page.
The Plant Cell cover.

5. Leaf to leaf systemic signalling

  • A leaf exposed to full sunlight will transmit a signal to shaded leaves enable a systemic acquired acclimation (SAA) response. The nature and regulation of SAA is under investigation.

6. Photosynthesis and photoprotection

  • We are investigating the safety valves plants used to protect against oxidative damage induced during photosynthesis. This program is a combination of biochemical genetics and physiology using Arabidopsis and avocado.

7. Collaborative projects

  • Several projects are undertaken by students based in CSIRO. For example, there is a project relating to cereal colour and nutritional content of wheat with Dr Crispen Howitt.
  • A key to our research is teamwork and applying cutting edge molecular and biochemical techniques in combination with whole plant physiology to build a picture from gene to crop.The approach utilizes deep sequencing, microarrays, promoter-reporter gene fusions, HPLC and GC-MS to identify novel genes and signalling pathways in Arabidopsis (related to Canola), wheat, avocado and canola.

Recent grants

  • Pogson, Estavillo and Yadav 'The generation of wheat cultivars with improved drought tolerance' Grains Research Development Council $600K 2014-2017
  • Cazzonelli and Pogson. 'The hunt for Ribonucleic Acid riboswitches and genetic sensors of metabolic flux in plants' $375K
  • Foley, Carroll, Badger, Pogson et al. 'High-throughput sample preparation robotics to enable emerging large-scale plant genomics, metabolomics and proteomics research' ARC LIEF $280K
  • Badger, von Caemmerer, Price, Goodnow, Pogson. 'Improving plant productivity and human health using next generation biotechnology approaches' ARC SuperScience Fellowships $556.8K
  • Borevitz, von Caemmerer, Balasubramanian, Millar, Small, Pogson et al 'Spectral climate chamber facilities for phenomic studies of plant light response adaptation' ARC LIEF $500K
  • Pogson, Estavillo and Howitt 'The generation of wheat cultivars with improved drought tolerance and agronomic traits' Grains Research Development Council $300K 2009-2013
  • Pogson, Easton, A 'Towards improving the yield of canola and other brassicas during drought', ARC Linkage $240K
  • Whelan, Smith, Badger, Small, Millar, Day, Pogson, 'ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology (CPEB)', $2.5M per annum.


Selected publications

2011- 2014 publications, 56 publications since 2008 (see complete list)


  • Avendaño-Vázquez, AO, Cordoba, E, Llamas, E, San Román, C, Nisar, N, De la Torre, S, Ramos-Vega, M, de la Luz Gutiérrez-Nava, M, Cazzonelli, C, Pogson, BJ, and Leon (2014) An uncharacterised apocarotenoid-derived signal generated in zeta-carotene desaturase mutants controls leaf development, chloroplast and nuclear gene expression in Arabidopsis Plant Cell.
  • Brown TB, Cheng R, Sirault XR, Rungrat T, Murray KD, Trtilek M, Furbank RT, Badger M, Pogson BJ, Borevitz JO. TraitCapture: genomic and environment modelling of plant phenomic data. Curr Opin Plant Biol. 2014 Apr;18C:73-79. doi: 10.1016/j.pbi.2014.02.002. Epub 2014 Mar 16. Review.
  • Van Norman JM, Zhang J, Cazzonelli CI, Pogson BJ, Harrison PJ, Bugg TD, Chan KX, Thompson AJ, Benfey PN. Periodic root branching in Arabidopsis requires synthesis of an uncharacterized carotenoid derivative. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 Apr 1;111(13):E1300-9. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1403016111. Epub 2014 Mar 17. PMID: 24639533
  • Nisar N, Cuttriss AJ, Pogson BJ, Cazzonelli CI. The promoter of the Arabidopsis PIN6 auxin transporter enabled strong expression in the vasculature of roots, leaves, floral stems and reproductive organs. Plant Signal Behav. 2014 Jan 31;9(1). pii: e27898. [Epub ahead of print] PMID:24487186
  • Pogson BJ and Albrecht, V (2014) An overview of chloroplast biogenesis and development. IN Plastid Biology, Eds SM Theg and F-A Wollman, Advances in Plant Biology, Springer (in press).
  • Estavillo, GM, Verhertbruggen, Y, Pogson, BJ, Heazlewood, J, Scheller, HV and Ito, J (2014) Isolation of the plant cytosolic fraction for proteomic analysis. Methods in Molecular Biology 1072: 453-67, PMID: 24136540.


  • Jung, H-S, Crisp, P, Estavillo, GM, Cole, B, Hong, F, Mockler, T, Pogson, BJ and Chory J (2013) A Subset of Heat Shock Transcription Factors Required for the Early Response of Arabidopsis to Excess Light. Proc. Natl. Acad. USA, online early doi:10.1073/pnas.1311632110.
  • Albrecht-Borth, V, Fan, D, Collinge, D Marri, S, Kauss, D, Hu, Y, Liebers, M, Apel, K, Pfannschmidt, T Chow, WS, Pogson, BJ (2013) A novel proteinase, SCO4, is required for photosynthetic acclimation to higher light intensities in Arabidopsis. Plant Physiology, online early doi:10.1104/pp.113.216036.
  • Cazzonelli, CI, Vanstraelen, M, Yin, K Carron-Arthur, A, Nisar, N, Tarle, G, Cuttriss, AJ, Searle, IS, Simon, S, Benkova, E, Mathesius, U, Masle, J, Friml, J, and Pogson, BJ (2013) Role of the Arabidopsis PIN6 auxin transporter in auxin homeostasis and auxin-mediated development. PLoS ONE 8(7):e70069.
  • Estavillo, GM, Verhertbruggen, Y, Pogson, BJ, Heazlewood, J, Scheller, HV and Ito, J (2013) Isolation of the plant cytosolic fraction for proteomic analysis. Methods in Molecular Biology.
  • Caliandro, R, Nagel, KA, Kastenholz, B, Bassi, R Li, Z, Niyogi, KK, Pogson, BJ, Schurr U and Matsubura, S (2013) Effects of altered α- and β-branch carotenoid biosynthesis on photoprotection and whole-plant acclimation of Arabidopsis to photo-oxidative stress. Plant, Cell & Environment 36:438-453
  • Carmody, M and Pogson, BJ (2013) Systemic photo-oxidative stress signaling. IN Long-Distance Systemic Signaling and Communication in Plants. Ed F. Baluska, Springer, Dordrecht pp 251-274.
  • Pogson BJ and Albrecht, V (2012) An overview of chloroplast biogenesis and development. IN Plastid Biology, Eds SM Theg and F-A Wollman, Advances in Plant Biology, Springer (in press).
  • Nisar, N, Verma, S, Pogson, BJ and Cazzonelli, CI (2013) Inflorescence stem grafting made easy in Arabidopsis. Plant Methods 8:50.
  • Husen, J, Förster, B, Chow, WS, Pogson, BJ and Osmond, CB (2013) Decreased photochemical efficiency of Photosystem II following sunlight exposure of shade-grown leaves of avocado (Persea americana Mill.): because of, or in spite of, two kinetically distinct xanthophyll cycles? Plant Physiology 161:836-852 doi:10.1104/pp.112.209692.
  • Chan, KX, Wirtz, M, Phua, SY, Estavillo, GM and Pogson, BJ (2013) Balancing metabolites in drought: the sulfur assimilation conundrum. Trends in Plant Science 18:18-29.


  • Gordon, MJ, Carmody, ME, Albrecht, V and Pogson, BJ (2012) Systemic and local responses to repeated HL stress-induced retrograde signaling in Arabidopsis. Frontiers in Plant Physiology 3:303 doi: 10.3389/fpls.2012.00303.>
  • Estavillo, GM, Chan, KX, Phua, SY and Pogson, BJ (2012) Reconsidering the nature and mode of action of metabolite retrograde signals from the chloroplast. Frontiers in Plant Physiology 3:300 doi: 10.3389/fpls.2012.00300
  • Matsubara, S, Förster, B, Waterman, M, Robinson, SA, Pogson, BJ, Gunning, B and Osmond, CB (2012) From ecophysiology to phenomics: some implications of photoprotection and shade-sun acclimation in situ for dynamics of thylakoids in vitro. Phil. Transactions Royal Society B doi:10.1098/rstb.2012.0072
  • Zhang, B, Carrie, C, Ivanova, A, Narsai, R, Murcha, MW, Duncan, O, Wang, Y, Law, SR, Albrecht, V, Pogson, BJ, Giraud, E, van Aken, O and Whelan J (2012) LETM proteins play a role in the accumulation of mitochondrially encoded proteins in Arabidopsis thaliana and AtLETM2 displays parent of origin effects. J. Biol. Chem. jbc.M112.383836. First Published on October 5, 2012, doi:10.1074/jbc.M112.383836.
  • Gruissem, W, Lee, C-H, Oliver, M and Pogson, B (2012) The Global Plant Council: Increasing the impact of plant research to meet global challenges. J. Plant Biol. 55: 343-348/li>
  • Williams, M, Lean, M, Pogson, B and Martin, C (2012) Plants, food and human health: You are what you eat? Plant Cell 24 (4) tpc.112.tt0412
  • Nichol, CJ, Pieruschka, R, Takayama, K, Förster, B, Kolber, Z, Rascher, U, Grace, J, Robinson, SA, Pogson, BJ, and Osmond, CB (2012) Canopy conundrums: exploring the envelope of reversible down-regulation of photosynthesis in the outer and inner canopy to scale observations from the leaf to the landscape. Functional Plant Biology 39:1-24.
  • Tanz, SK, Kilian, J, Johnsson, C, Apel, K, Small, ID, Harter, K, Wanke, K, Pogson, BJ and Albrecht, V (2012) The SCO2 protein disulphide isomerase is required for thylakoid biogenesis and interacts with LCHB1 chlorophyll a/b binding proteins which affects chlorophyll biosynthesis in Arabidopsis seedlings. Plant Journal 69: 743-54. (featured article and cover)


  • Estavillo, GM, Crisp, PA, Pornsiriwong, W, Wirtz, M, Collinge, D, Carrie, C, Giraud, E, Whelan, J, David, P, Javot, H, Brearley, C, Hell, R, Marin, E and Pogson, BJ (2011) Evidence for a SAL1-PAP Chloroplast Retrograde Pathway that Functions in Drought and High Light Signaling in Arabidopsis. Plant Cell 23: 3992-4012
  • Cuttriss, AJ, Cazzonelli, CI, Wurtzel, ET and Pogson, BJ (2011) Vitamin A (carotenoids). IN Biosynthesis of vitamins in Plants, Eds F. Rébeillé and R. Douce, Advances in Botanical Research
  • Hirsch J, Misson J, Crisp PA, David P, Bayle V, Estavillo GM, Javot H, Chiarenza S, Mallory AC, Maizel A, Declerck M, Pogson BJ, Vaucheret H, Crespi M, Desnos T, Thibaud M-C, Nussaume L, Marin E (2011) A Novel fry1 Allele Reveals the Existence of a Mutant Phenotype Unrelated to 5'->3' Exoribonuclease (XRN) Activities in Arabidopsis thaliana. Roots. PLoS ONE 6(2): e16724
  • Förster, B, Pogson, BJ and Osmond CB (2011) Lutein from de-epoxidation of lutein epoxide replaces zeaxanthin to sustain an enhanced capacity for non-photochemical chlorophyll fluorescence quenching in avocado shade leaves in the dark. Plant Physiol. 156: 393-403.
  • Pogson, BJ, and Albrecht, V (2011) Genetic dissection of chloroplast biogenesis and development: an overview. Plant Physiol. 155:1545-1551.
  • *Woo, NS, *Gordon, MJ, Graham, SR, Rossel, JB, Badger, MR and Pogson, BJ (2011) A mutation in the purine biosynthetic enzyme ATASE2 impacts high light signalling and acclimation responses in green and chlorotic sectors of Arabidopsis leaves. Functional Plant Biology 38:401-419.
  • Albrecht V, Estavillo GM, Cuttriss AJ and Pogson BJ (2011) Identifying chloroplast biogenesis and signalling mutants in Arabidopsis thaliana. Methods in Molecular Biology 684:257-72.

Selected earlier publications

  • Albrecht, V, Šimková, K, Carrie, C, Delannoy, E, Giraud, E Whelan, J, Small, I Apel, K, Badger, M and Pogson, BJ (2010) The cytoskeleton and the peroxisomal-targeted SNOWY COTYLEDON 3 protein are required for chloroplast development in Arabidopsis. Plant Cell 22(10):3423-38.
  • Che, P, Bussell, JD Zhou, W Estavillo, G, Pogson, BJ, Smith SM (2010) Signaling from the Endoplasmic Reticulum Activates Brassinosteroid Signaling and Promotes Acclimation to Stress in Arabidopsis. Science Signaling 3 (141), ra69. [DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2001140].
  • Cazzonelli CI and Pogson BJ. (2010) A balance between source and sink: regulation of carotenoid composition in plants. Trends in Plant Science 15(5): 266-274
  • Cazzonelli, CI, Cuttriss, AJ, Cossetto, SB, Pye, W, Whelan, J, Finnegan, J, Turnbull, C and Pogson, BJ (2009) Epigenetic regulation of carotenoid composition in Arabidopsis. Plant Cell 21: 39-53.
  • Wilson, PB, Estavillo, GM, Field, KJ, Carroll, AJ, Pornsiriwong, W, Howell, KA, Lake, JA, Millar, AH, von Caemmerer, S, Pogson, BJ (2009) The nucleotidase/phosphatase, SAL1, is a negative regulator of drought tolerance in Arabidopsis. Plant Journal 58: 299-317
  • Delannoy, E, Le Ret, M, Faivre-Nitschke, SE, Estavillo, GM, Bergdoll, M, Taylor, NL, Pogson, BJ, Small, ID, Imbault, P, and Gualberto, JM (2009) Arabidopsis tRNA adenosine deaminase (TADA) is responsible for editing the wobble nucleotide of chloroplast tRNAArg(ACG), a modification essential for efficient chloroplast translation. Plant Cell 21: 2058-2071
  • Millar, AH, Carrie, C, Pogson, BJ and Whelan J (2009) Exploring the function:location nexus - using multiple lines of evidence in defining the subcellular location of plant proteins. Plant Cell 21: 1625-1631.
  • Rossel, JB Wilson, PB, Hussain, D, Woo, NS, Gordon, MJ, Mewett, OP, Howell, KA, Whelan, J, Kazan, K, Pogson, BJ (2007) Systemic and Intracellular Response to Photooxidative stress in Arabidopsis. Plant Cell 19: 4091-4110. (ISI highly cited)
  • Pogson, B.J., Woo, NS, Förster B and Small, ID (2008) Plastid signalling to the nucleus and beyond. Trends in Plant Science 13 (11): 602-609 (ISI highly cited)
  • DellaPenna, D. and Pogson, B.J. (2006) Vitamin synthesis in plants: tocopherols and carotenoids. Annual Review of Plant Biology 57: 711-738 (ISI highly cited)
  • Millgate, A.G., Pogson, B.J., Wilson, I.W., Zenk, M.H., Gerlach, W.L., Fist, A.J. and Larkin, P.J. (2004) A morphine-free mutant of opium poppy - changing the poppy analgesic industry. Nature 431:413-414.
  • Park H., Kreunen S.S., Cuttriss, A.J., DellaPenna, D., Pogson B.J. (2002) Identification of the carotenoid isomerase provides insight into carotenoid biosynthesis, prolamellar body formation and photomorphogenesis. Plant Cell 14: 321-332. (ISI highly cited)
  • Pogson B.J., Niyogi K.K., Björkman O., and DellaPenna D. (1998) Altered xanthophyll compositions adversely affect chlorophyll accumulation and nonphotochemical quenching in Arabidopsis mutants. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 95: 13324-29.
  • Pogson B.J., McDonald K., Truong M., Britton G., and DellaPenna D. (1996) Arabidopsis carotenoid mutants demonstrate lutein is not essential for photosynthesis in higher plants. Plant Cell 8: 1627-1639.

All publications

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