Dr Florian Busch PhD

Dr Florian Busch

School of Biosciences

Dr Florian Busch is a theoretical and experimental plant physiologist interested in all aspects of photosynthesis. His focus is on linking different photosynthetic processes with mathematical models to study the biochemical limitations of carbon fixation and to gain a quantitative understanding of how plant carbon uptake responds to changes in the environment.


PhD in Plant Biology, Heinrich-Heine University, Düsseldorf, Germany (2008)


Florian obtained his PhD in 2008 from the Heinrich-Heine University in Düsseldorf, Germany, during which time he worked closely with Dr Norm Hüner at Western University in London, Canada. After several years of post-doctoral work with Dr Rowan Sage at the University of Toronto, Canada he moved to the Australian National University to first work as a Postdoctoral Fellow with Dr Susanne von Caemmerer and later as a Research Fellow with Dr Graham Farquhar. He took up his current position of Lecturer at the School of Biosciences in 2020.

Postgraduate supervision

Students interested in working with Florian on the physiology of photosynthesis should contact him directly via email (f.a.busch@bham.ac.uk).


Florian is a plant physiologist with a focus on studying physiological mechanisms related to photosynthesis. His research is guided by his interest in understanding on a mechanistic level how plants utilize available resources, such as light, water, CO2, and nutrients, and how they convert these resources to carbohydrates and ultimately plant biomass. This is not only interesting from the perspective of pure knowledge gain, but also has important consequences for society, which relies on harvested plant biomass for their food supply. In this field, his main focus of research is linking the biophysical processes of light harvesting and the properties of leaf-level CO2 diffusion with the biochemical processes of CO2 and nitrogen assimilation.


Work done in the Busch lab is based on two pillars: describing our current understanding of plant function by mathematical models and testing these models experimentally. In combination, they are a powerful tool to identify where our understanding is incomplete and to generate new hypotheses that help fill the gaps in our knowledge. While empirical models may yield accurate predictions of the magnitude of an effect, mechanistic models can be used to elucidate the drivers of an observed effect and can help answer the question why a plant behaves the way it does. The goal of our research is to deepen our understanding of how plant productivity relates to environmental factors and stresses. This understanding is an essential prerequisite to improving crop productivity in the face of population growth and global change.


To achieve this goal, Florian has developed novel measurement techniques (e.g. one to measure the notoriously difficult-to-estimate flux of photorespiration), designed and refined tools to analyze and experimental data (e.g. a new model to interpret carbon isotope discrimination signatures) and developed new mathematical models connecting biochemical processes in the leaf (e.g. linking photorespiration with nitrogen assimilation).


Please find the most current list of publications here: https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=JPktD98AAAAJ&hl=en

Journal articles (* Corresponding author, # Equal contribution)

  1. Deans RM, Brodribb TJ, Busch FA, Farquhar GD* (2020): Optimisation can provide the fundamental link between leaf photosynthesis, gas exchange and water relations. Nature Plants 6: 1116-1125. doi: 10.1038/s41477-020-00760-6
  2. Busch FA*, Holloway-Phillips M-M, Stuart-Williams H, Farquhar GD (2020): Revisiting carbon isotope discrimination in C3 plants shows respiration rules when photosynthesis is low. Nature Plants 6: 245-258. doi: 10.1038/s41477-020-0606-6
  3. Busch FA* (2020): Photorespiration in the context of Rubisco biochemistry, CO2 diffusion, and metabolism. The Plant Journal 101(4):919-939. doi: 10.1111/tpj.14674
  4. Salesse-Smith C, Sharwood RE, Busch FA, Stern DB* (2020): Increased Rubisco content in maize mitigates chilling stress and speeds recovery. Plant Biotechnology Journal 18(6): 1409-1420. doi: 10.1111/pbi.13306
  5. Busch FA#, Tominaga J#, Muroya M#, Shirakami N#, Takahashi S, Yamori W, Kitaoka T, Milward SE, Nishimura K, Matsunami E, Toda Y, Higuchi C, Muranaka A, Takami T, Watanabe S, Kinoshita T, Sakamoto W, Sakamoto A, Shimada H* (2020): Overexpression of BUNDLE SHEATH DEFECTIVE 2 improves the efficiency of photosynthesis and growth in Arabidopsis. The Plant Journal 102(1): 129-137. doi: 10.1111/tpj.14617
  6. Khoshravesh R, Stata M, Busch FA, Saladié M, Castelli JM, Dakin N, Hattersley PW, Macfarlane TD, Sage RF, Ludwig M*, Sage TL* (2020): The evolutionary origin of C4 photosynthesis in the grass subtribe Neurachninae. Plant Physiology182(1): 566-583. doi: 10.1104/pp.19.00925
  7. Deans RM, Farquhar GD, Busch FA* (2019): Estimating stomatal and biochemical limitations during photosynthetic induction. Plant, Cell & Environment 42(12): 3227-3240. doi: 10.1111/pce.13622
  8. Ubierna N*, Cernusak LA, Holloway-Phillips M-M, Busch FA, Cousins AB, Farquhar GD* (2019): Critical review: Incorporating the arrangement of mitochondria and chloroplasts into models of photosynthesis and carbon isotope discrimination. Photosynthesis Research 141(1):5-31. doi: 10.1007/s11120-019-00635-8
  9. Deans RM, Brodribb TJ, Busch FA, Farquhar GD* (2019): Plant water-use strategy mediates stomatal effects on the light induction of photosynthesis. New Phytologist 222(1): 382-395. doi: 10.1111/nph.15572
  10. Earles JM#, Buckley TN#, Brodersen CR, Busch FA, Cano FJ, Choat B, Evans JR, Farquhar GD, Harwood R, Huynh M, John GP, Miller ML, Rockwell FE, Sack L, Scoffoni C, Struik PC, Wu A, Yin X, Barbour M* (2019): Embracing 3D complexity in leaf carbon-water exchange. Trends in Plant Science 24(1): 15-24. doi: 10.1016/j.tplants.2018.09.005
  11. Shimono H, Farquhar G, Brookhouse M, Busch FA, O’Grady A, Tausz M, Pinkard EA* (2019): Pre-screening from large populations as a tool for identifying e[CO2]-responsive genotypes in plants. Functional Plant Biology 46(1): 1-14. doi: 10.1071/FP18087
  12. Salesse-Smith CE, Sharwood RE, Busch FA, Kromdijk J, Bardal V, Stern D (2018): Overexpression of Rubisco subunits with Rubisco assembly factor 1 increases Rubisco content in maize. Nature Plants 4(10): 802-810. doi: 10.1038/s41477-018-0252-4
  13. Aspinwall MJ*, Blackman CJ, Resco de Dios V, Busch FA, Rymer PD, Loik ME, Drake JE, Pfautsch S, Smith RA, Tjoelker MG, Tissue DT (2018): Photosynthesis and carbon allocation are both important predictors of genotype productivity responses to elevated CO2 in Eucalyptus camaldulensis. Tree Physiology38(9): 1286-1301. doi: 10.1093/treephys/tpy045
  14. Busch FA*, Sage RF, Farquhar GD (2018): Plants increase CO2 uptake by assimilating nitrogen via the photorespiratory pathway. Nature Plants 4(1): 46-54. doi: 10.1038/s41477-017-0065-x
  15. Tcherkez G*, Gauthier P, Buckley TN, Busch FA, Barbour MM, Bruhn D, Heskel MA, Gong XY, Crous K, Griffin KL, Way DA, Turnbull MH, Adams MA, Atkin OK, Farquhar GD, Cornic G (2017): Tansley Review – Leaf day respiration: low CO2 flux but high significance for metabolism and carbon balance. New Phytologist 216(4): 986-1001. doi: 10.1111/nph.14816
  16. Henry RJ*, Rangan P, Furtado A, Busch FA*, Farquhar GD (2017): Does C4 photosynthesis occur in wheat seeds? Plant Physiology 174(4): 1992-1995. doi: 10.1104/pp.17.00837
  17. Farquhar GD*, Busch FA (2017): Changes in the chloroplastic CO2 concentration explain much of the observed Kok effect: a model. New Phytologist 214(2): 570-584. doi: 10.1111/nph.14512
  18. Tcherkez G*, Gauthier P, Buckley TN, Busch FA, Barbour MM, Bruhn D, Heskel MA, Gong XY, Crous K, Griffin KL, Way DA, Turnbull MH, Adams MA, Atkin OK, Bender M, Farquhar GD, Cornic G (2017): Tracking the origins of the Kok effect, 70 years after its discovery. New Phytologist 214(2): 506-510. doi: 10.1111/nph.14527
  19. Busch FA*, Sage RF (2017): The sensitivity of photosynthesis to O2 and CO2 concentration identifies strong Rubisco control above the thermal optimum. New Phytologist 213(3): 1036-1051. doi: 10.1111/nph.14258
  20. Busch FA*, Farquhar GD (2016): Poor evidence for C4 photosynthesis in the wheat grain. Plant Physiology 172(3): 1357. doi: 10.1104/pp.16.
  21. Khoshravesh R, Stinson CR, Stata M, Busch FA, Sage RF, Ludwig M, Sage TL* (2016): C3-C4 intermediacy in grasses: organelle enrichment and distribution, glycine decarboxylase expression, and the rise of C2 photosynthesis. Journal of Experimental Botany 67(10): 3065–3078. doi: 10.1093/jxb/erw150
  22. Walker BJ, Skabelund DC, Busch FA, Ort DR* (2016): An improved approach for measuring the impact of multiple CO2 conductances on the apparent photorespiratory CO2 compensation point through slope-intercept regression. Plant, Cell & Environment 39: 11981203. doi: 10.1111/pce.12722
  23. Betti M*, Bauwe H, Busch FA, Fernie A, Keech O, Levey MPW, Ort DR, Parry MAJ, Sage RF, Timm S, Walker B, Weber APM (2016): Manipulating photorespiration to increase plant productivity: recent advances and perspectives for crop improvement. Journal of Experimental Botany 67(10): 2977–2988. doi: 10.1093/jxb/erw076
  24. Busch FA* (2015): Reducing the gaps in our understanding of the global carbon cycle. New Phytologist 206(3): 886-888. doi: 10.1111/nph.13399
  25. Friesen PC*, Peixoto MM, Busch FA, Johnson DC, Sage RF (2014): Chilling and frost tolerance in Miscanthus and Saccharum genotypes bred for cool temperate climates. Journal of Experimental Botany 65: 3749-3758. doi: 10.1093/jxb/eru105
  26. Busch FA* (2014): Opinion: The red-light response of stomatal movement is sensed by the redox state of the photosynthetic electron transport chain. Photosynthesis Research 119: 131-140. doi: 10.1007/s11120-013-9805-6
  27. Sage TL*, Busch FA, Johnson DC, Friesen PC, Stinson CR, Stata M, Sultmanis S, Rahman BA, Rawsthorne S, Sage RF (2013): Initial events in the evolution of C4 photosynthesis in C3 species of Flaveria (Asteraceae). Plant Physiology 163: 1266-1276. doi: 10.1104/pp.113.221119
  28. Busch FA* (2013): Current methods for estimating the rate of photorespiration in leaves. Plant Biology 15: 648-655. doi: 10.1111/j.1438-8677.2012.00694.x
  29. Hüner NPA*, Bode R, Dahal K, Busch FA, Possmayer M, Szyszka B, Rosso D, Ensminger I, Krol M, Ivanov AG, Maxwell DP (2013): Shedding some light on cold acclimation, cold adaptation and phenotypic plasticity. Botany 91: 127-136. doi: 10.1139/cjb-2012-0174
  30. Busch FA*, Sage TL, Cousins AB, Sage RF (2013): C3 plants enhance rates of photosynthesis by reassimilating photorespired and respired CO2. Plant, Cell & Environment 36 (1): 200-212. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-3040.2012.02567.x
  31. Herschbach C*, Rizzini L, Mult S, Hartmann T, Busch F, Peuke AD, Kopriva S, Ensminger I (2010): Over-expression of bacterial γ-glutamylcysteine synthetase (GSH1) in plastids affects photosynthesis, growth and sulphur metabolism in poplar (Populus tremula x Populus alba) dependent on the resulting γ-glutamylcysteine and glutathione levels. Plant, Cell & Environment 33: 1138-1151. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-3040.2010.02135.x
  32. Busch F*, Hüner NPA, Ensminger I (2009): Biochemical constrains limit the potential of the photochemical reflectance index as a predictor of effective quantum efficiency of photosynthesis during the winter spring transition in Jack pine seedlings. Functional Plant Biology 36: 1016-1026. doi: 10.1071/fp08043
  33. Busch F, Hüner NPA, Ensminger I* (2008): Increased air temperature during simulated autumn conditions impairs photosynthetic electron transport between PSII and PSI. Plant Physiology 147: 402-414. doi: 10.1104/pp.108.117598
  34. Busch F, Hüner NPA, Ensminger I* (2007): Increased air temperature during simulated autumn conditions does not increase photosynthetic carbon gain but affects the dissipation of excess energy in seedlings of the evergreen conifer Jack pine. Plant Physiology 143: 1242-1251. doi: ​10.​1104/​pp.​106.092312
  35. Ensminger I*, Busch F, Hüner NPA (2006): Photostasis and cold acclimation: Sensing low temperature through photosynthesis. Physiologia Plantarum 126: 28-44. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-3054.2006.00627.x


Book chapters

  1. Busch FA*(2018): Photosynthetic gas exchange in land plants at the leaf level. Book Chapter in: Covshoff S (ed), Photosynthesis: Methods and Protocols. Springer New York, USA: 25-44. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-7786-4_2
  2. Walker BJ*, Busch FA, Driever S, Kromdijk J, Lawson T (2018): Survey of tools for measuring in vivo photosynthesis from culture to canopy. Book Chapter in: Covshoff S (ed), Photosynthesis: Methods and Protocols. Springer New York, USA: 3-24. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-7786-4_1
  3. Busch FA*, Deans RM, Holloway-Phillips MM (2017): Estimation of photorespiratory fluxes by gas exchange. Book Chapter in: Fernie AR, Bauwe H, Weber APM (eds), Photorespiration: Methods and Protocols. Springer New York, USA: 1-15. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-7225-8_1
  4. Yamori W*, Irving LJ, Adachi S, Busch FA (2016): Strategies for optimizing photosynthesis with biotechnology to improve crop yield. Book Chapter in: Pessarakli M (ed), Handbook of Photosynthesis, 3rd Edition. CRC Press, USA: 741-759. doi: 10.1201/b19498-55
  5. Ensminger I*, Hüner NPA, Busch F (2009): Conifer cold hardiness, climate change and the likely effects of warmer temperatures on photosynthesis. Book chapter in: Gusta L, Wisniewski M and Tanino K (eds), Plant Cold Hardiness: From the Laboratory to the Field: 249-261. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-3054.2006.00627.x

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