John Evans



John Evans gained his PhD in 1984 (ANU) under the supervision of Professor Graham Farquhar. After post doctoral fellowships in Cambridge (UK) at the Plant Breeding Institute and CSIRO Plant Industry (Canberra), he won a Queen Elizabeth II fellowship and returned to ANU in 1988. He was deputy CEO-Science for the CRC for Greenhouse Accounting (2003-2006), is a monitoring editor for Plant Physiology and on the editorial board of Plant, Cell & Environment. He is a highly cited plant physiologist whose research has focussed on photosynthesis.


Research interests

John Evans is a plant physiologist who has specialised in quantitatively linking biochemical and anatomical properties to the performance of leaves and plants. Photosynthesis research has been the focus throughout his career. His research has made significant impacts in three areas:

  1. Relating photosynthesis to nitrogen
  2. Quantifying the conductance to CO2 diffusion within leaves
  3. Analysing how plants acclimate to their light environment.

He has examined how nitrogen is partitioned between various photosynthetic proteins, how their distribution through leaves interacts with the distribution of light and CO2 diffusion within leaves. He is interested in how rising atmospheric CO2 interacts with nitrogen cycling, with particular reference to symbiotic N2 fixation.

Recent grants

  • (2011-2012) J Gready, JR Evans Rubisco bioscience. Bayer Bioscience 
  • (2011-2012) J Gready, JR Evans Identifying Wheat Germplasm with superior Rubisco for increased drought tolerance. GRDC 
  • (2011-2013) S von Caemmerer, JR Evans, MM Barbour Oxygen isotope discrimination during C4 photosynthesis ARC DP110104269 ($330K)
  • (2010-2012) OK Atkin, JR Evans, MG Tjoelker, SA Sitch, JJ Lloyd Leaf respiration under drought: a global perspective ARC DP1093759 ($330K)
  • (2009) W Hillier, PJ Pace, TJ Wydrzynski, OK Atkin, MR Badger, DG Price, JR Evans, SM Whitney, S von Caemmerer, GD Farquhar, A multiple ion membrane inlet mass spectrometer. ARC LE0989408 ($150K)
  • (2008) JR Evans and S von Caemmerer, Trace gas analyser for stable isotopes of CO2, ANU major equipment grant ($155K)
  • (2007-2009) JR Evans and S von Caemmerer, What limits carbon dioxide diffusion inside leaves? Dissecting the diffusion path with Arabidopsis mutants ARC DP0771413 ($265K)
  • (2006) MR Badger et al. Plant Phenomics Imaging and Analysis Facility ARC LE0668487 ($553K).

Recent International conference presentations

  • 2010 Membrane physiology in leaves, Earth's lungs. RN Robertson Plenary lecture, OzBio, Melbourne.
  • 2008 Significant limitations to CO2 diffusion inside leaves: a popular concept but problematic methodology. Gordon Research Conference CO2 assimilation in plants: Genome to Biome, University of New England, Maine, USA.
  • 2008 Does internal conductance vary with irradiance? European Science Foundation exploratory workshop Mesophyll conductance to CO2: mechanisms, modelling and ecological implications, Sa Coma, Mallorca, Spain
  • 2006 Balancing light capture with distributed metabolic demand during C4 photosynthesis IRRI conference on ‘Supercharging the rice engine: C4 rice’, Philippines.


  • Professor Susanne von Caemmerer, ANU (Canberra, Australia)
  • Professor Owen Atkin, ANU (Canberra, Australia)
  • Professor Marilyn Ball, ANU (Canberra, Australia)
  • Dr Spencer Whitney, ANU (Canberra, Australia)
  • Professor Jill Gready, ANU (Canberra, Australia)
  • Dr Margaret Barbour, Sydney University (Sydney, Australia)
  • Professor Steve Tyerman, University of Adelaide (SA, Australia).


Selected publications

  • Tazoe Y, von Caemmerer S, Estavillo GM, Evans JR (2011) Using tunable diode laser spectroscopy to measure carbon isotope discrimination and mesophyll conductance to CO2 diffusion dynamically at different CO2 concentrations.  Plant Cell & Environment.
  • von Caemmerer S, Evans JR, (2010) Enhancing C3 photosynthesis Plant Physiology 154, 589-592. 
  • Evans JR, Kaldenhoff R, Genty B. & Terashima I. (2009). Resistances along the CO2 diffusion pathway inside leaves. Journal of Experimental Botany 60, 2235-2248 
  • Harrison MT, Edwards EJ, Farquhar GD, Nicotra AB and Evans JR. (2009). Nitrogen in cell walls of sclerophyllous leaves accounts for little of the variation in photosynthetic nitrogen use efficiency. Plant Cell & Environment 32: 259-270. 
  • Edwards EJ, McCaffery S and Evans JR. (2006) Phosphorus availability and elevated CO2 affect biological nitrogen fixation and nutrient fluxes in a clover-dominated sward. New Phytologist 169:157-167. (5)
  • Edwards EJ, McCaffery S and Evans JR. (2005) Phosphorus status determines biomass response to elevated CO2 in a legume: C4 grass community. Global Change Biology 11:1968-1981. (0)
  • Ghannoum O, Evans JR, Chow WS, Andrews TJ, Conroy JP, and von Caemmerer S (2005) Faster Rubisco is the key to superior nitrogen-use efficiency in NADP-malic enzyme relative to NAD-malic enzyme C4 grasses. Plant Physiology 137:638-650.(15)
  • Evans JR and Vogelmann TC (2003) Profiles of 14C fixation through spinach leaves in relation to light absorption and photosynthetic capacity. Plant Cell & Environment 26: 547-560. (Cover photo) (23).
  • Evans, JR and Poorter, H. (2001) Photosynthetic acclimation of plants to growth irradiance: The relative importance of SLA and nitrogen partitioning in maximising carbon gain. Plant Cell & Environment 24:755-776. 
  • Evans, JR (1989) Photosynthesis and nitrogen relationships in leaves of C3 plants. Oecologia 78, 9-19.

All publications

Updated:  23 July 2018/Responsible Officer:  Director RSB/Page Contact:  Webmaster RSB