Half a Century of Pursuing the Pervasive Proton

  • John A. RavenEmail author
Part of the Progress in Botany book series (BOTANY, volume 74)


Acid–base regulation is probably a universal attribute of life, and energy coupling via transmembrane H+ gradients is very widespread. Much of my academic career has been related to these two processes and to their interactions. Highlights from my studies of acid–base regulation are the quantitative resolution of the challenges for acid–base regulation in land plant shoots when metabolism involving net H+ production (e.g. primary assimilation of NH 4 + , NH3 or N2) occurs there, quantitation of the energy costs of acid–base regulation for different locations and mechanisms of acid–base regulation for the assimilation of a range on N sources and the interaction of CO2 concentrating mechanisms in aquatic photosynthetic organisms with acid–base regulation. Research on the significance of transmembrane H+ gradients has included a significant contribution to the early development of chemiosmotic hypothesis of polar transport of indoleacetic acid, the evolutionary significance of chemiosmotic coupling and the role of H+ leakage relative to other processes which consumed energy at an essentially constant rate regardless of the rate of light energy supply in determining the minimum photon flux density at which photolithotrophic growth can occur. On a global scale, work on the effects of anthropogenic CO2 production on ocean acid–base balance has helped to set limits on the significance of this ‘ocean acidification’ for marine algae. A final point covered in the chapter is an analysis of the continuing attempts to determine precisely what is being regulated, e.g. the pH of the intracellular compartment or the ionisation state of one or more of weak electrolytes in the compartment.


Base Regulation Ocean Acidification Crassulacean Acid Metabolism Weak Electrolyte Chara Corallina 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



My experimental, and much of my theoretical, work on acid–base relations and the role of protons in metabolism depends on my co-workers and especially post-doctoral fellows and PhD students Susan Allen, Mitchell Andrews, John Beardall, Jennie Brenchley, Jennifer Carfrae, Katherine Crawfurd, Richard Geider, Sheila Glidewell, Espen Granum, Paul Hill, Andrew Johnston, Rebecca Korb, Janet Kübler, Matt Jones, Andrew Miller, Bruce Osborne, Lynda Poole and Karen Roberts. I am particularly indebted to Professors Enid A C MacRobbie and F Andrew Smith.

The University of Dundee is a registered Scottish Charity, No. SC10596


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Plant ScienceUniversity of Dundee at the James Hutton InstituteDundeeUK
  2. 2.School of Plant BiologyUniversity of Western AustraliaCrawleyAustralia

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