Dr Richard Webster BSc MSc PhD

Dr Richard Webster

Plant Physiologist and Data Analyst

Contact Details


From August to December 2016

Associate Professor (visiting).

Aarhus University, Denmark.

Research focus: Photorespiration and its role in stress responses to heat and CO2 in wheat. Funded by Aarhus University Research Award.

Richards main research interest is the process of photosynthesis; its function & interaction with the environment & how this process can be improved. He investigates how plants cope with changing environments, how this affects their photosynthetic capability & what this means for their growth, development & yield.

His work requires understanding the fundamentals of both the light & dark reactions of photosynthesis. Through quantifying photosynthetic electron transport, energy production, CO2 diffusion and assimilation, photorespiration, & other metabolic processes such as the translocation & storage of assimilates, to describe growth & understand the interaction of the plant and its photosynthesis to the environment.Previous Employers:

  • University of Essex, Colchester, Essex.
  • University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, USA.
  • Isle Of Man (PEML).
  • University of the West Indies (CRU). Trinidad and Tobago.
  • University of Liverpool, Liverpool, U.K.

Teaching: Plant Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, USA.

Additional Information

Previous Employers:

  • University of Essex, Colchester, Essex.
  • University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, USA.
  • Isle Of Man (PEML).
  • University of the West Indies (CRU). Trinidad and Tobago.
  • University of Liverpool, Liverpool, U.K.

Teaching: Plant Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, USA.

PEPG Techniques Workshop

The Plant Environmental Physiology Group (PEPG) is a Special Interest Group of the Society for Experimental Biology and the British Ecological Society. I co-organise the biannual PEPG Environmental Plant Physiology workshops. These workshops provide hands-on experience and training in plant ecophysiology techniques from leading scientists and manufacturers. I lead the organisation of the practical sessions and lead the teaching of advanced gas exchange and chlorophyll fluorescence techniques. I also assist in securing funding and organising the speakers and lecture sessions.


Current Research

  • Photosynthesis & photorespiration in Wheat in response to temperature, water limitation & stress priming events.

  • Photosynthetic characteristics & environmental limitations of cyanobacteria living in Deserts Biological Soil Crusts.

  • Photosynthesis and Photorespiration in Arundo donax.

  • The resilience of photosynthesis, and water use efficiency in Miscanthus genotypes in response to drought.

  • How high temperatures reduce yield through altered carbon assimilation and respiration in the C4 grass Miscanthus.

  • Characterisation of Miscanthus germplasm for stress tolerance, biomass yield & quality. Richard has established 7 field sites across the EU in climatically different sites, to elucidate the GxE responses.

Supervising students

  • Investigating photosynthesis in macroalgae.
  • How salinity and drought stress affects yield, photosynthesis and water use efficiency in Miscanthus genotypes.

----Other Projects

  • Photosynthesis in Emiliania huxleyi in response to elevated [CO2] and changes in light and temperature environment. Including chlorophyll fluorescence, PSI:PSII abundance and photosystem size, light response and TC response curves using MIMS. 14C assays to quantify Rubisco activation states & specificity factor.

  • The effects of elevated [CO2] and [O3] on Glycine max and Zea mays at the SoyFACE facility at the University of Illinois. Cold tolerance in Z. mays and Miscanthus x. giganteus.

  • Resilience of photosynthesis in Theobroma cacao in response to Crinipellis perniciosa & Phytophora spp infection.



Clifton-Brown, J., Hastings, A., Mos, M., McCalmont, J., Ashman, C., Awty-Carroll, D., Cerazy, J., Chiang, Y., Cosentino, S., Cracroft-Eley, W., Scurlock, J., Donnison, I., Glover, C., Golab, I., Greef, J., Gwyn, J., Harding, G., Hayes, C., Helios, W., Hsu, T.W., Huang, L., Jezownski, S., Kim, D., Kiesel, A., Kotecki, A., Krzyzak, J., Lewandowski, I., Lim, S.H., Liu, J., Loosely, M., Meyer, H., Murphy-Bokern, D., Nelson, W., Pogrzeba, M., Robinson, G., Robson, P., Rogers, C., Scalici, G., Schuele, H., Shafiei, R., Shevchuk, O., Schwarz, K., Squance, M., Swaller, T., Thornton, J., Truckses, T., Botnari, V., Vizir, I., Wagner, M., Warren, R., Webster, R., Yamada, T., Youell, S., Xi, Q., Zong, J., Flavell, R. 2017. Progress in upscaling Miscanthus biomass production for the European bio-economy with seed-based hybrids. GCB Bioenergy 9 (1) pp. 6-17. Cadair


Webster, R.J., Driever, S., Kromdijk, W., McGrath, J., Leakey, A., Siebke, K., Demetriadees-Shah, T., Bonnage, S., Lawson, T., Long, S. 2016. High C3 photosynthetic capacity and high intrinsic water use efficiency underlies the high productivity of the bioenergy grass Arundo donax. Scientific Reports 6 20694 Cadair

Beddow, J., Johnson, R.J., Lawson, T., Breckels, M.N., Webster, R., Smith, B.E., Rowland, S.J., Whitby, C. 2016. The effect of oil sands process-affected water and model naphthenic acids on photosynthesis and growth in Emiliania huxleyi and Chlorella vulgaris. Chemosphere 145 pp. 416-423. Cadair

Stavridou, E., Webster, R., Robson, P. 2016. The impact of soil salinity on the yield, composition and physiology of the bioenergy grass Miscanthus x giganteus. GCB Bioenergy 9 (1) pp. 92-104. Cadair


Boeckx, T., Webster, R., Winters, A., Webb, J., Gay, A., Kingston-Smith, A. 2015. Polyphenol oxidase-mediated protection against oxidative stress is not associated with enhanced photosynthetic efficiency. Annals of Botany 116 (4) pp. 529-540.


Clifton-Brown, J.C., Purdy, S.J., Hayes, C.M., Ashman, C.R., Jones, L.E., Farrar, K., Huang, L.S., Gallagher, J.A., Glover, C.M., Hinton Jones, M.E., Jensen, E.F., Loosley, R.M., Maddison, A.L., McCalmont, J.P., Nunn, C., Robson, P.R., Slavov, G.T., Warren, R.D., Webster, R.J., Youell, S.J., Donnison, I.S., Davey, C.L., Jones, C.M., Barraclough, T., Castle, M., Cunniff, J., Cracroft-Eley, W., Greef, J.M., Hastings, A., Harding, G., Lewandowski, I., Meyer, H., Mos, M., Nelson, W., Richter, G., Rodgers, C., Schwarze, K., Squance, M., Swaller, T., Shield, I., Xi, Q., Karp, A., Flavell, R. 2014. Recent advances in Miscanthus science and breeding. International Bioenergy Conference 2014, Manchester, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, 11/03/2014 - 13/03/2014.


Clifton-Brown, J.C., Robson, P.R., Davey, C.L., Farrar, K., Hayes, C.M., Huang, L.S., Jensen, E.F., Jones, L.E., Hinton Jones, M.E., Maddison, A.L., Meyer, H., Norris, J.A., Purdy, S.J., Rodgers, C., Schwarz, K., Salvatore, C., Slavov, G.T., Valentine, J., Webster, R.J., Youell, S.J., Donnison, I.S. 2013. Breeding Miscanthus for bioenergy. In M. C. Saha., H. S. Bhandari., J. H. Bouton. (eds) Biomass Crops: Breeding and Genetics. Wiley

Purdy, S.J., Maddison, A.L., Jones, L.E., Webster, R.J., Andralojc, J., Donnison, I.S., Clifton-Brown, J.C. 2013. Characterization of chilling-shock responses in four genotypes of Miscanthus reveals the superior tolerance of M. x giganteus compared with M. sinensis and M. sacchariflorus. Annals of Botany 111 (5) pp. 999-1013.


Boeckx, T., Webster, R., Winters, A.L., Webb, K.J., Kingston-Smith, A.H. 2011. Can PPO mitigate photooxidative damage under abiotic stress conditions? 2011 Society for Experimental Biology Annual Main Meeting, Glasgow, , 01/07/2011 - 04/07/2011. pp. 34.


Lefebvre, S., Webster, R., Harris, G., Read, B., Leonardos, N., Geider, R., Garrido, J.L., Raines, C. 2010. Characterization And Expression Analysis Of The Lhcf Gene Family In Emiliania huxleyi (Haptophyta) Reveals Differential Responses To Light And CO2. Journal of Phycology 46 (1) pp. 123-134.

Archer, S.D., Ragni, M., Webster, R., Airs, R.L., Geider, R.J. 2010. Dimethyl sulfoniopropionate and dimethyl sulfide production in response to photoinhibition in Emiliania huxleyi. Limnology and Oceanography 55 (4) pp. 1579-1589.