Anthony Trewavas

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Anthony J. Trewavas is a Professor at the University of Edinburgh[1] , best known for his research in the fields of plant physiology and molecular biology. His lifetime research has concerned what is now recognized as plant behavior.He was born in 1939 and his secondary school education was John Roans Grammar School, Blackheath, London which he left in 1958 with five A levels. He obtained both his degree and Ph.D in Biochemistry at University College London before performing post doctoral work at the newly-constituted University of East Anglia. He moved to the University of Edinburgh in 1970. In 1972 he was invited to be first Visiting Professor at the prestigious Plant Research laboratory in Michigan State University. At the time this was laboratory was regarded as the foremost laboratory dealing with plant research. He also after invitation spent periods of time as Visiting Professor at other Universities in the Americas and Europe usually providing up to 20 lectures. He is the author of some 250 scientific papers and three books both as editor and author. He was made Professor Emeritus in the University of Edinburgh in 2004. Plant behavior is simply the response to signals.He main research contribution as the leader of the Edinburgh Molecular Signalling Group, has been in the role of calcium in signal transduction during plant development.[2] He is an elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (1993), the Royal Society of Arts (1995), the Royal Society of London (1999), the Centre for Future Studies (2001) [3] Academia Europea in 2002 and received the "corresponding membership" award from the American Society of Plant Biologists in 1999,[4] a prize given to one non-US biologist per year.[5] He is named by the Institute for Scientific Information as in the most highly cited author group in the field of animal and plant Sciences.[6] He is a past or present member of the editorial boards of the publications, Trends in Plant Science, Botanica Acta, Plant Physiology, What's New in Plant Physiology, Biochemical Journal "Molecular Plant", "Plant Signaling and Behaviour", Plant, Cell and Environment.

His most recent research concentrated on imaging cytosolic calcium distributions inside cells subjected to signaling. For this a flexible confocal fluorescence ratio was constructed in 1988-1990 to image calcium redistribution during contact sensing, stomatal aperture control, pollen tube and rhizoid growth, moss development and photomorphogenesis. Plants were also transformed with the gene for the calcium sensitive luminescent protein aequorin, allowing measurements of cytosolic calcium in whole plants and bacteria. It was this research that led to his election to the Royal Society of London. Plants have also been transformed with genes for calmodulin to better assess the role of calcium in development. The group also cloned plant calcium channels and MARCKS, an actin/calmodulin binding protein.

He is author of three books the most recent published in 2014 by Oxford University Press is entitled Plant Behaviour and Intelligence. This book covers the fundamental principles of plant behavior and how it is clearly intelligent in characteristics. It has been described by the leading science journal "Science" as Botanical Brilliance,

Professor Trewavas is one of the United Kingdom's strongest supporters of genetically modified food crops believing that agriculture must be based on evidence not superstition that often characterizes opposition to it. His strong support and knowledge has led him into helping with some legal actions over GM crops perhaps the most noticeable concerned a libel action that Greenpeace took against The Herald newspaper published in Glasgow in 2000 and is described below.

In 2000 Greenpeace took out a libel action against the Herald newspaper in Glasgow on two claims made in the newspaper. These were that the farm of the Head of Greenpeace, Lord Melchett, was not organic despite the Greenpeace policy being for organic farming. Secondly the claim that Greenpeace received money from industry. The Herald’s solicitor contacted Professor Trewavas to see if he could help fight the action and he provided the following material. Firstly, excerpts from Farming News published in July 1999 in which David Richardson, Founder of LEAF stated that he knew Melchett’s farm was not organic and a week later a letter from Melchett in Farming News accepting that it was not and blaming the health of his manager for the failure to transfer to organic farming. Secondly, a document which had been sent to Professor Trewavas from Greenpeace. This 6 page document published monthly cost £100/copy and detailed environmental news as it related to industry. As Head of Greenpeace, Lord Melchett rightly wished to embed environmental concerns into industry and was responsible for its initiation and publication. However the front page of this document listed the large number of industries which took copies starting with Shell BP. When the case came to the High Court in October, The Herald's lawyer presented this information which Greenpeace legal representation refused to accept and indicated taking the issue to jury trial. The Herald’s legal representative decided that this would result in further very high costs and agreed to pay a nominal, small, sum in damages. Greenpeace insisted the amount because of its smallness should remain undisclosed, since disclosure might imply the allegations were essentially correct. Within a few weeks of the decision Lord Melchett was ejected from Greenpeace altogether, along with his policy of trying to green industry and he ended up in The Soil Association. The publication ceased forthwith. Two weeks later an account of the issue was published in The Herald by Professor Trewavas. Because of his close involvement in providing evidence to The Herald, several anti-GMO organisations tried by careful selection of material to erroneously imply he was the source of the initial material. In fact the claims the Herald published, originated in the USA.

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