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Fellows Directory

Ian Graham

Professor Ian Graham FRS


Elected: 2016


Ian Graham’s interests include how plants make and breakdown various metabolites, how these processes are controlled and how they impact on plant growth. He has used biochemical genetics to dissect the main metabolic pathways controlling oil mobilisation in Arabidopsis seed and provided new insight into how a lipid based signal controls seed germination.  He has used similar approaches to investigate the synthesis of bioactive compounds in two of the world’s major medicinal crops. This has led to new understanding of how genome rearrangement has shaped the evolution of plant metabolism. The discovery of a 10 gene cluster responsible for the production of the anti-cancer compound noscapine in opium poppy provided the tools for molecular breeding of new commercial varieties. The discovery of a novel P450 – oxidoreductase gene fusion described the last unknown step in synthesis of morphine and codeine. Characterisation and genetic mapping of traits responsible for production of artemisinin in Artemisia annua has enabled development of F1 hybrid seed that can deliver a robust source of this vital anti-malarial drug for the developing world.

Professional positions

Weston Chair of Biochemical Genetics, Centre for Novel Agricultural Products, University of York

Interests and expertise

Subject groups


Alkaloids, Dormancy, Fatty acid breakdown, Importance of plants, Industrial Biotechnology, Medicinal plants, Metabolism, Secondary metabolism, Seed biology, Seed germination, Terpenoids