Graham Farquhar

Group research focus

Mainly interested in photosynthesis and water use, and how Nature has organised them at different scales from the chloroplast to the leaf to the plant to the canopy and in some cases to the globe. Also interested in how different species make optimal (or sub-optimal) choices for gas exchange properties, depending on stochastic properties of the environment and on their life strategies – we need to understand the molecular bases for the latter. Also how such features are affected by climate change and increasing CO2 levels.

Teaching and research achievements

We have developed models of photosynthesis and carbon isotope discrimination and optimal stomatal behaviour, and these have been applied in agricultural, meteorological and biogeochemical settings. Prime Minister’s Prize for Science 2015.

What is your teaching focus?

My lectures in BIOL 3125 examine climate change, particularly aspects affecting plant water relations, and how the plant physiological properties of the land surface intersect.

What else do you have underway?

We’re keen on understanding the compromises the carboxylating enzyme Rubisco makes between reaction velocities at different substrate levels. We want to know the genetic bases for differences in response of growth rate among Eucalyptus seedlings to increased CO2 levels. We want to know how much stress leaves can endure while still maintaining saturating humidity in the leaves, and when this breaks down and why. We are interested in the plant physiological modulation of the isotopic composition of global atmospheric oxygen and carbon dioxide.