Professor Peter Horton FRS
Peter Horton is a plant biologist with expertise in photosynthesis now carrying out interdisciplinary research aimed at delivering a global agri-food system that is sustainable, resilient and just. He considers how an integrated analytical view of complete food supply systems will enable interventions that simultaneously reduce the adverse environmental impacts of food production, increase resource-use efficiency and promote human health. This research forms a part of his role as Chief Research Advisor to the Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures, an ambitious and innovative collaboration between the University of Sheffield and the Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment, which aims to build a fairer world and save natural resources for future generations through interdisciplinary research, postgraduate training and external engagement.
His previous research on the regulation of the light-dependent reactions of photosynthesis, the process by which green plants use sunlight to make carbohydrates from carbon dioxide and water is widely recognised for integrating knowledge from the molecular to the environmental level. Peter’s pioneering investigations revealed the molecular trasformations used by plants to efficiently exploit limited light whilst also protecting them from excess light through its dissipation as heat. This knowledge now provides ways to produce crops that are better adapted to harsh environments and extreme climatic conditions. Furthermore, his prediction that this photoprotective mechanism could be re-optimised to allow crop plants to photosynthesise more under favourable but fluctuating conditions is being confirmed by recent research.
Interests and expertise