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Fellows Directory

Christopher Leaver

Christopher Leaver

Professor Christopher Leaver CBE FRS


Elected: 1986


Christopher Leaver’s main research interests are directed towards an understanding of the molecular and biochemical basis of plant growth and differentiation .He was among the first to isolate and fractionate native nucleic acids from higher plants, and he described the pathway of cytoplasmic ribosomal RNA synthesis.

He was first to isolate and characterise plant mitochondrial ribosomes, establish their unique RNA composition, and develop the standard system used for protein synthesis by isolated plant mitochondria. Together with his group, he pioneered research into the structure and information content of the plant mitochondrial genome. He went on to investigate the regulation of mitochondrial biogenesis and function during plant growth and differentiation in general, pollen formation, senescence and programmed cell death.

Christopher’s early work laid the foundation for our understanding of the molecular and biochemical basis — and phenotypic consequences — of mitochondrial genetic diversity in plants, and the mitochondrial mutations that cause the agriculturally important trait of cytoplasmic male sterility and fertility restoration in important crop plants, including maize, sunflower and sorghum.

Professional positions

Emeritus Professor of Plant Science, St. John's College, University of Oxford

Interest and expertise

Subject groups

  • Biochemistry and molecular cell biology
    • Biochemistry and molecular biology


Higher Plant Growth and Development, Mitochondrial DNA, Mitochondrial genetics, Mitochondrial membrane

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