Donald Ort


Robert Emerson Professor of Plant Biology
USDA/ARS Photosynthesis Research Unit
Adjunct Professor of Crop Sciences

1406 IGB MC-195
(217) 333-2093


PhD, 1974, Michigan State University


IB 420, Photosynthesis


Growth and photosynthetic performance of plants are frequently diminished by commonly occurring environmental conditions. For instance, in a fairly diverse group of plant species, a persistent inhibition of photosynthesis occurs when plants are exposed to chilling temperatures. My laboratory is investigating the underlying causes and molecular basis for inhibition of photosynthesis by low temperature exposure and by drought. The research strategy involves molecular, biochemical, and whole plant studies. We are also very interested in the response of plants to increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide and surface ozone levels. This research centers on SoyFACE (, the new Free Air Carbon dioxide Enrichment facility at the University of Illinois.

Our current research emphasis on photosynthetic energy transduction centers on the regulation of photosynthetic ATPsynthase enzyme complex. Regulation of the catalytic activity of the ATPsynthase involves both an energetic component as well as redox modulation. The approach includes flash kinetic spectroscopy to monitor enzyme activation in intact leaves, rapid mixing to determine the order of events in activation and deactivation of the enzyme complex, and the selection and analysis of ATPsynthase activation mutants of Arabidopsis.


Grennan AK, Ort DR (2007) Cool temperatures interfere with D1 synthesis in tomato by causing ribosomal pausing. Photosynth Res, DOI : 10.1007/s11120-007-9169-x.


Bernacchi CJ, Kimball BA, Quarles DR, Long SP, Ort DR (2007) Decreases in Stomatal Conductance of Soybean (Glycine max) under Open-air Elevation of [CO2] Are Closely Coupled with Decreases in Ecosystem evapotranspiration. Plant Physiol 143: 134-144


Chung DW, Pruzinska A, Hortensteiner S, Ort DR (2006) The Role of Pheophorbide a Oxygenase Expression and Activity in the Canola Green Seed Problem. Plant Physiol 142: 88-97