Professor Charles Barry Osmond

BSc MSc (UNE) PhD (Adel), FAA, FRS, ML, poi
Honorary Visiting Fellow
ANU College of Science
T: +61 2 6287 1487

Areas of expertise

  • Plant Physiology 060705
  • Plant Biology 0607
  • Biochemistry And Cell Biology 0601
  • Ecology 0602

Research interests

Research Interests
Photosynthesis, the miracle in which plants turn sunlight, air and water into bread and wine, fuel and fibre, is the most energetic of all biological processes. It is susceptible to stress in strong light and my research deals with relationships between the two reversible processes of photoprotection and photoinactivation. Photoprotection involves pigment-protein transformations in the light harvesting antennae of chloroplasts that lead to the dumping of excess light as heat. Shade leaves of tropical plants, such as avocado, have two carotenoid based pigment cycles that have established a particular photoprotective function for the xanthophyll pigment lutein. Photoinactivation involves events in the water splitting reaction centre in chloroplasts that lead to the destruction of core proteins, loss of function and a cycle of repair. Studies of these events in-vivo depend heavily on non-intrusive methods using chlorophyll fluorescence. These techniques are also applied in environmental plant physiology and ecology to determine the interaction of strong light with high temperature, water and nutritional stresses, and some can be scaled up for remote sensing in canopies


Charles Barry Osmond BSc, MSc, (UNE) PhD (Adel.) FAA, FRS, Mitgl. Leopoldina (German National Academy of Science) is a Honorary Visiting Fellow at ANU and has a fractional appointment at the University of Wollongong NSW. His career was boosted by unparalleled opportunities formerly available in the Research School of Biological Sciences, Australian National University (1967-2001). He held senior appointments in the US, at the Desert Research Institute, University of Nevada Reno and later as an Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor, Department of Botany, Duke University before returning as director RSBS 1991-1998. He resigned from ANU in 2001 to become President of Columbia University’s visionary Biosphere 2 Center where, prior to its premature closure in 2003, he stimulated new approaches to experimental ecosystem and climate change science now available in some 70 publications, a few of which are cited under publications (below). Some other activities include

Member, Fachbeirat (scientific advisory board) Max-Planck Institut für Molekulare Pflanzenphysiologie, (2000-5)

Member, Fachbeirat, ICG Forschungszentrum Jülich in the Helmholtz Gemeinschaft (2005)

Treasurer, International Society for Photosynthesis Research (2004-2010)

Member, Integrated Biological Systems Steering Committee, DIISR (2009-11)

Researcher's projects

Photoprotective functions of xanthophyll pigments in avocado

Studies of shade leaves in some tropical plants (including avocado) that have two carotenoid based pigment cycles have established a particular photoprotective function for the xanthophyll pigment lutein.

Papers from this project:

Jia HS, Forster B, Chow WS, Pogson BJ, Osmond CB (2013) Deacreased 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 161,863-852 

Matsubara S, Forster B, Waterman M, Robinson SA, Pogson BJ, Gunning B, Osmond B (2012). From ecophysiology to phenomics: some implications of photoprotection and shade-sun acclimation in-situ for dynamics of thylakoids in-vitro. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, B. 367, 3503-3514

Forster B, Osmond CB, Pogson BJ (2011) Lutein from deepoxidation of lutein epoxide replaces zeaxanhin to sustain an enhanced capacity for nonphotochemical chlorophyll fluorescence quenching in avocado shade leaves in the dark, Plant Physiology 156, 393-403

Förster B, Pogson BJ, Osmond CB (2009) De-novo synthesis and degradation of Lx- and V-cycle pigments during shade and sun acclimation in avocado leaves (P. americana). Plant Physiology 149, 1179-1195

Esteban R, Jiménez MS, Morales D, Jiménez ET, Hormaetxe K, Becerril JM, Osmond B, García-Plazaola J-I (2008) Short and long-term modulation of the lutein-epoxide and violaxanthin cycles in two species of the Lauraceae: sweet bay laurel (Laurus nobilis L.) and avocado (Persea americana Mill). Plant Biology 10, 288-297.


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Updated:  03 December 2022 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers