Wah Chow

Group membership

Fred Chow obtained his BSc (Hons) in 1972 (Univ. Of Tasmania) and his PhD in 1977 (Flinders University). From 1977 to 1991, he held term appointments at Imperial College London, the Glasshouse Crops Research Institute (UK) and CSIRO Plant Industry (Canberra). From 1991 to 1996, he was employed by CSIRO Plant Industry indefinitely at a level up to Senior Principal Research Scientist. Since 1996, he has held term appointments at ANU. He has been an Editor for Physiologia Plantarum since 1996, and an ISI Highly Cited Researcher in Plant & Animal Science. A major focus of his research is the structural organisation and function of photosynthetic membranes and their supramolecular components in vitro and in leaves in varied environments.

Research interests

The physiology, biophysics and biochemistry of plant photosynthesis, including: light-induced electron and proton transport in leaves under environmental stress; thylakoid structure and function, particularly dynamic architecture; and photoprotection and photoinactivation of Photosystem II.

Recent grants

  • 2010-13 Chow (CI) ARC Discovery Project grant, Probing the Four Photosynthetic Membrane Protein Complexes at Work in situ in Leaves, total $268,000 over 3 years.
  • 2007-09 Chow (CI) and Barber (PI), ARC Discovery Project grant, Disorder as a Novel Determinant of Photosynthetic Structure and Function, total $265,000 over 3 years.


Much of our work is done in collaboration with other research groups at ANU, elsewhere in Australia and overseas. Current collaborators include:

  • Professor Murray Badger, ANU (Canberra, Australia)
  • Professor Jan Anderson, ANU (Canberra, Australia)
  • Dr John Evans, ANU (Canberra, Australia)
  • Dr Shunichi Takahashi, ANU (Canberra, Australia)
  • Professor Tony Larkum and Dr Milan Szabo (University of Technology Sydney) 'Symbiodinium isolated from corals'
  • Professor Changlian Peng (South China Normal University) 'Anti-oxidative stress' and “Invasive plant species'
  • Professor Chuang-Dao Jiang (Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences) 'Photosynthetic performance in sorghum'
  • Professor Wangfeng Zhang (Shihezi Univeristy, Xinjiang, China) 'Cotton Photosynthesis”
  • Associate Professor J. He (Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. 'Aeroponic vertical farming of temperate-climate vegetables in the tropics’.

Selected publications

  • Jia, H., Liggins, J.R. and Chow, W.S. (2014) Entropy and biological systems: Experimentally-investigated entropy-driven stacking of plant photosynthetic membranes. Scientific Reports. 4: 4142.
  • Kou, J., Takahashi, S.,Oguchi, R., Fan, D.-Y., Badger, M. R. and Chow, W. S. (2013) Estimation of the steady-state cyclic electron flux around Photosystem I in spinach leaf discs in white light, CO2-enriched air and other varied conditions. Functional Plant Biology 40: 1018-1028.
  • Hu, Y.-Y, Fan, D.-Y., Losciale, P., Chow, W. S. and Zhang, W.-F. (2013) Whole-tissue determination of the rate coefficients of photoinactivation and repair of Photosystem II in cotton leaf discs based on flash-induced P700 redox kinetics. Photosynthesis Research 117: 517-528.
  • Anderson, J.M., Horton, P., Kim, E.-H. and Chow, W.S. (2012) Towards elucidation of dynamic structural changes of plant thylakoid architecture. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B. 367: 3515-3524.
  • Jia, H., Liggins, J.R. and Chow, W.S. (2012) Acclimation of leaves to low light produces large grana: the origin of the predominant attractive force at work. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B. 367: 3494-3502.
  • Oguchi, R., Douwstra, P., Fujita, T., Chow, W.S. and Terashima, I. (2011) Intra-leaf gradients of photoinhibition induced by different color lights: Implications for the dual mechanisms of photoinhibition and for the application of conventional chlorophyll fluorometers. New Phytologist. 191: 146-159.
  • Jiang, C.-D., Wang, X., Gao, H.-Y., Shi, L. and Chow, W. S. (2011) Systemic Regulation of Leaf Anatomical Structure, Photosynthetic Performance and High-light Tolerance in Sorghum. Plant Physiology. 155: 1416-1424.
  • Fan, D.-Y., Hope, A.B., Smith, P.J., Jia, H., Pace, R.J., Anderson, J.M. and Chow, W.S. (2007) The stoichiometry of the two photosystems in higher plants revisited. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta 1767: 1064-1072.
  • Kim, E.-H., Chow, W.S., Horton, P. and Anderson, J.M. (2005) Entropy-assisted stacking of thylakoid membranes. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta 1708: 187-195.
  • Hendrickson L., Pogson, B.J., Förster B., and Chow W.S. (2005). A simple chlorophyll fluorescence parameter that correlates with the rate coefficient of photoinactivation of Photosystem II. Photosynthesis Research 84: 43-49.
  • Matsubara S. and Chow W.S. (2004) Populations of photoinactivated photosystem II reaction centers characterized by chlorophyll a fluorescence lifetime in vivo. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science U.S.A. 101: 18234-18239.
  • Chow, W.S. (1999). Grana formation: entropy-assisted local order in chloroplasts? Australian Journal of Plant Physiology 26: 641-647.
  • Park, Y.-I., Chow, W.S. and Anderson, J.M. (1995) Light inactivation of functional photosystem II in leaves of peas grown in moderate light depends on photon exposure. Planta 196: 401-411.
  • Öquist, G., Chow, W.S. and Anderson, J.M. (1992) Photoinhibition of photosynthesis represents a mechanism for the long-term regulation of photosystem II. Planta 186: 450-460.
  • Chow, W.S., Hope, A.B. and Anderson, J.M. (1991) Further studies on quantifying photosystem II in vivo by flash-induced oxygen yield from leaf discs. Australian Journal of Plant Physiology 18: 397-410.
  • Chow, W.S., Melis, A. and Anderson, J.M. (1990) Adjustments of photosystem stoichiometry in chloroplasts improve the quantum efficiency of photosynthesis. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science USA 87: 7502-7506.
  • Chow, W.S. (1984) The extent to which the spatial separation between Photosystems I and II associated with granal formation limits non-cyclic electron flow in isolated lettuce chloroplasts. Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics 232: 162-171.
  • Rubin, B.T., Chow, W.S. and Barber, J. (1981). Experimental and theoretical considerations of the mechanism controlling cation effects on thylakoid membrane stacking and chlorophyll fluorescence. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta 634: 174-190.
  • Chow, W.S., Wagner, G. and Hope, A.B. (1976) Light-dependent redistribution of ions in isolated spinach chloroplasts. Australian Journal of Plant Physiology 3: 853-861.

All publications