Professor Barry Pogson

PhD, Macquarie University 1992
ANU College of Science

Areas of expertise

  • Plant Physiology 060705
  • Plant Cell And Molecular Biology 060702
  • Cell Metabolism 060104
  • Signal Transduction 060111
  • Gene Expression (Incl. Microarray And Other Genome Wide Approaches) 060405
  • Crop And Pasture Biochemistry And Physiology 070303

Research interests

The focus of our research is to understand signaling between the chloroplast and nucleus during development, drought and high light stress..  This includes discovery of proteins involved in epigenetics, RNA metabolism, chloroplast-nuclear signalling, carotenoid biosynthesis, photosynthesis and drought. 

Our strategy is to apply cutting edge molecular and biochemical techniques in combination with whole plant physiology to build a picture from gene to crop.The approach utilizes a range of technologies from next generation  sequencing to HPLC and GC-MS to identify novel genes and signalling pathways in model plants and crops.

The research program is an integral component of the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology (see below). The Centre offers Honours scholarships and topup scholarships for PhD students, in addition to well funded research, conference travel and graduate training programs.

1.  Chloroplast retrograde signalling and Drought. We are studying the mechanisms by which plants perceive and respond to drought and excess light. This requires signals from the chloroplast to the nucleus, a process known as retrograde signaling. We have uncovered a molecular that moves between the two organelles to regulate gene expression and are investigating its function in Arabidopsis. We are applying this knowledge to the development of drought tolerant wheat.

2. Carotenoid dervitaives as retrograde signals in plant development and acclimation to stress

Our work is focused on the characterization of plant pigments, particularly carotenoids and their role in photosynthesis and chloroplast development. Carotenoids are important pigments in photosystems, many fruits, flowers, and seafood. Nutritionally they are the source of vitamin A and offer some protection against certain cancers, heart and eye diseases. Thus, understanding their biosynthesis may lead to improved nutritional value of foods. The goals are to elucidate the mechanisms that control carotenoid accumulation using biochemical genetics. 

Novel carotenoid cleavage products, yet to be identified, impact diverse processes in plants. What they are and how they function is under investigation.

3. 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.

4. Optimising Energy Use Efficiency: A goal of the ARC Centre of Excellence and our IWYP grant on wheat is to determing the constraints on energy capture and use by a cell, then select for crops and identify the underlying genes that will improve energy use efficiency and thus yield.

5. Collaborative projects: Several projects are undertaken by students based in CSIRO and at other nodes of the ACR Centre of Excellence

Morec details on our projects are available upon request.


Barry Pogson completed his PhD at Macquarie University. He moved to the USA in 1994 working as a postdoc with Dean DellaPenna before taking an Assistant Professorship at Arizona State University in 1997. He moved to ANU late 1999. Pogson is Deputy Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology ( and lead CI on an International Wheat Yield Partnership grant to Improve Wheat Yeild by Optimising Energy Use Efficiency ( Notable acheivements and roles in the science community include:
  • Eureka Prize for Outstanding Mentor of Young Researchers
  • ISI Highly Cited Scientist 2015, 17, 18, 19, 20
  • Aus Govt National Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning and Mentoring
  • ANU's Peter Baume Award for eminent acheivement
  • ANU's Vice Chancellors Supervisor Award
  • ASPB Top Cited Author Award for highly cited articles in The Plant Cell
  • Fenner Medal from Australian Academy of Scientists
  • Goldacre Award from Australian Society of Plant Scientist
More significantly members of his lab have received multiple international and national awards for research, mentoring and teaching excellence (Goldacre Medal, ACT Chief Minister's Prize for Scientist of the Year, SEB President's Medal, National Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Sutdent Learning), the ANU Crawford Prize for best PhD thesis at ANU, and six students have received University medals and/or awards for their honours thesis in the past ten years

Researcher's projects

Carotenoid Signaling and Plant Development

This proposal will unravel the regulatory mechanisms controlling carotenoid composition and identify novel chloroplast signals producedfrom the carotenoid pathway that regulate dewvelopment and acclimiation responses.

Understanding chloroplast to nuclear signaling and response pathways which determine photosynthetic capacity, drought tolerance and regulate stomatal function

Aim: To gain new insights into chloroplast/nuclear signaling pathways. particularly the SAL1-PAP pathway that regulates HL and drought stress signaling in plants

Improving Energy Use Efficiency in Wheat 

The plant organelles responsible for the plants ability to perform photosynthesis, the chloroplasts, are essential for plant growth and vitality. Capture and use of energy is critical for yield. This project is funded by the International Wheat Yield Partnership and GRDC. See for more details.     

Lab members


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Updated:  01 October 2023 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers