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Fellows Directory

Harry Smith

Harry Smith

Professor Harry Smith FRS


Elected: 2000


Professor Smith elucidated the main photosensory mechanism by which plants respond to the light environment. He showed how development responses to shading are mediated by the phytochrome family of photoreceptors. He was a pioneer in investigation of the spectral signals of proximity to other plants, leading to the concepts of ’proximity perception’, ’neighbour detection’ and ’shade avoidance’ that are fundamental to the understanding of plant-plant interactions. Through the use of mutants and transgenic plants he has been able to define the respective roles of the family of phytochrome photoreceptors and provided a molecular framework for understanding and manipulating competitive interactions between plants.

Professor Harry Smith FRS died on 9 February 2015.

Biographical Memoir

Interest and expertise

Subject groups

  • Organismal biology, evolution and ecology
    • Organismal biology (including invertebrate and vertebrate zoology)
  • Other
    • Other interests


  • Leeuwenhoek Medal and Lecture

    On 'The influence of the host on microbes that cause disease'.

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