Associate Professor Peter Franks

Future Fellow, Department of Environmental Sciences

C81 - ATP - The Biomedical Building
The University of Sydney

Telephone +61 2 8627 1051
Fax +61 2 8627 1099

Biographical details

Peter Franks graduated with first class honours and then a PhD in plant sciences from the Australian National University under the supervision of Professors Graham Farquhar and Ian Cowan. He was a Lecturer and then Senior Lecturer in plant physiology at James Cook University before joining the University of Sydney as a Senior Lecturer in biosphere-atmosphere interactions. Peter has been awarded two distinguished research fellowships, the Charles Bullard Fellowship at Harvard University and the Brenda Ryman Fellowship at the University of Cambridge, for studies on the regulation of carbon and water exchange between plants and the atmosphere. He has also held a Senior Research Fellowship at the University of Sheffield and is currently Associate Professor and ARC Future Fellow in the Faculty of Agriculture and Environment.

For more than 12 years Peter has been heavily involved in university teaching. He has developed and coordinated several undergraduate degree courses in biology, ecology and environmental physiology, as well as graduate courses in climate change adaptation, and has supervised honours, masters and PhD research students. Enquiries and informal discussions about postgraduate studies in any of the above research areas are always welcome.

Research interests

Every year, through billions of tiny pores or ‘stomata’ on the surface of leaves, plants take up about 120 gigatons of carbon (as CO2) in exchange for about 60,000 gigatons of water, an expensive transaction particularly in regions where water is limited. Much remains unknown about the physiological mechanisms that regulate the economics of this exchange under different climatic conditions, and how the nature of these mechanisms adapts to long-term fluctuations in the availability of water and CO2. My goal is to advance the understanding of these processes and to facilitate the application of this knowledge to the management of agricultural and natural systems.

Environmental and paleo-physiology of plant gas exchange and stomatal function:

  • Mechanistic modeling of stomatal regulation of photosynthesis and transpiration through the integration of studies of the cellular physiology of guard cells, stomatal mechanics and the plant hydraulic system.
  • Evolution of stomatal function, including the contribution of grass stomatal characteristics to the rise and dominance of grassland ecosystems.
  • Physiological and genomic constraints on plant productivity and water use efficiency through geological time.

Global change biology:

  • Plant adaptation to elevated atmospheric CO2 in the past and in the future.
  • Evolution of photosynthetic gas exchange capacity, plant genome size and atmospheric CO2 concentration over the past 400 million years

Themes

Plant and crop physiology

Selected grants

2013

  • Genetic Control of Stomatal Traits; Gray J, Franks P; DVC Research/International Research Collaboration Award (IRCA).

2010

  • Past and future effects of Climate change on the carbon-water balance of plants; Franks P; Australian Research Council (ARC)/Future Fellowships (FT).

2009

  • 450 million year history of plant gas exchange capacity and the role of atmospheric carbon dioxide; Franks P, Holtum J, Cantrill D, Royer D, Beerling D, McElwain J, Berry J, Chamberlain P; Australian Research Council (ARC)/Discovery Projects (DP).

Selected publications

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Journals

  • Franks, P., Casson, S. (2014). Connecting stomatal development and physiology. New Phytologist, 201(4), 1079-1082.
  • Franks, P. (2013). Passive and active stomatal control: either or both? New Phytologist, 198(2), 325-327. [More Information]
  • Franks, P., Adams, M., Amthor, J., Barbour, M., Berry, J., Ellsworth, D., Farquhar, G., Ghannoum, O., Lloyd, J., McDowell, N., et al (2013). Sensitivity of plants to changing atmospheric CO2 concentration: From the geological past to the next century. New Phytologist, 197(4), 1077-1094. [More Information]
  • Drake, P., Froend, R., Franks, P. (2013). Smaller, faster stomata: scaling of stomatal size, rate of response and stomatal conductance. Journal of Experimental Botany, 64(2), 495-505. [More Information]
  • Doheny-Adams, T., Hunt, L., Franks, P., Beerling, D., Gray, J. (2012). Genetic manipulation of stomatal density influences stomatal size, plant growth and tolerance to restricted water supply across a growth carbon dioxide gradient. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. Biological Sciences, 367(1588), 547-555.
  • Franks, P., Freckleton, R., Beaulieu, J., Leitch, I., Beerling, D. (2012). Megacycles of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration correlate with fossil plant genome size. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. Biological Sciences, 367(1588), 556-564. [More Information]
  • Taylor, S., Franks, P., Hulme, S., Spriggs, E., Christin, P., Edwards, E., Woodward, F., Osborne, C. (2012). Photosynthetic pathway and ecological adaptation explain stomatal trait diversity amongst grasses. New Phytologist, 193(2), 387-396. [More Information]
  • Franks, P., Leitch, I., Ruszala, E., Hetherington, A., Beerling, D. (2012). Physiological framework for adaptation of stomata to CO2 from glacial to future concentrations. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. Biological Sciences, 367(1588), 537-546. [More Information]
  • Hill, J., Edwards, W., Franks, P. (2012). Size is not everything for desiccation-sensitive seeds. Journal of Ecology, 100(5), 1131-1140. [More Information]
  • Ruszala, E., Beerling, D., Franks, P., Chater, C., Casson, S., Gray, J., Hetherington, A. (2011). Land Plants Acquired Active Stomatal Control Early in Their Evolutionary History. Current Biology, 21(12), 1030-1035. [More Information]
  • Drake, P., Froend, R., Franks, P. (2011). Linking hydraulic conductivity and photosynthesis to water-source partitioning in trees versus seedlings. Tree Physiology, 31(7), 763-773. [More Information]
  • Tsvuura, Z., Griffiths, M., Gunton, R., Franks, P., Lawes, M. (2010). Ecological filtering by a dominant herb selects for shade tolerance in the tree seedling community of coastal dune forest. Oecologia, 164(4), 861-870. [More Information]
  • Hill, J., Edwards, W., Franks, P. (2010). How long does it take for different seeds to dry? Functional Plant Biology: an international journal of plant function, 37(6), 575-583. [More Information]
  • Humphreys, C., Franks, P., Rees, M., Bidartondo, M., Leake, J., Beerling, D. (2010). Mutualistic Mycorrhiza-Like Symbiosis in the Most Ancient Group of Land Plants. Nature Communications, 1(Article 103), 1-7. [More Information]
  • Beerling, D., Franks, P. (2010). PLANT SCIENCE The hidden cost of transpiration. Nature, 464(7288), 495-496.
  • Berry, J., Beerling, D., Franks, P. (2010). Stomata: key players in the earth system, past and present. Current Opinion in Plant Biology, 13(3), 233-240. [More Information]
  • Franks, P., Beerling, D. (2009). CO2-forced evolution of plant gas exchange capacity and water-use efficiency over the Phanerozoic. Geobiology, 7(2), 227-236. [More Information]
  • Beerling, D., Franks, P. (2009). Evolution of stomatal function in 'lower' land plants. New Phytologist, 183, 921-925. [More Information]
  • Franks, P., Beerling, D. (2009). Maximum leaf conductance driven by CO2 effects on stomatal size and density over geologic time. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), 106(25), 10343-10347. [More Information]
  • Franks, P., Drake, P., Beerling, D. (2009). Plasticity in maximum stomatal conductance constrained by negative correlation between stomatal size and density: an analysis using Eucalyptus globulus. Plant, Cell and Environment, 32(12), 1737-1748.

2014

  • Franks, P., Casson, S. (2014). Connecting stomatal development and physiology. New Phytologist, 201(4), 1079-1082.

2013

  • Franks, P. (2013). Passive and active stomatal control: either or both? New Phytologist, 198(2), 325-327. [More Information]
  • Franks, P., Adams, M., Amthor, J., Barbour, M., Berry, J., Ellsworth, D., Farquhar, G., Ghannoum, O., Lloyd, J., McDowell, N., et al (2013). Sensitivity of plants to changing atmospheric CO2 concentration: From the geological past to the next century. New Phytologist, 197(4), 1077-1094. [More Information]
  • Drake, P., Froend, R., Franks, P. (2013). Smaller, faster stomata: scaling of stomatal size, rate of response and stomatal conductance. Journal of Experimental Botany, 64(2), 495-505. [More Information]

2012

  • Doheny-Adams, T., Hunt, L., Franks, P., Beerling, D., Gray, J. (2012). Genetic manipulation of stomatal density influences stomatal size, plant growth and tolerance to restricted water supply across a growth carbon dioxide gradient. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. Biological Sciences, 367(1588), 547-555.
  • Franks, P., Freckleton, R., Beaulieu, J., Leitch, I., Beerling, D. (2012). Megacycles of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration correlate with fossil plant genome size. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. Biological Sciences, 367(1588), 556-564. [More Information]
  • Taylor, S., Franks, P., Hulme, S., Spriggs, E., Christin, P., Edwards, E., Woodward, F., Osborne, C. (2012). Photosynthetic pathway and ecological adaptation explain stomatal trait diversity amongst grasses. New Phytologist, 193(2), 387-396. [More Information]
  • Franks, P., Leitch, I., Ruszala, E., Hetherington, A., Beerling, D. (2012). Physiological framework for adaptation of stomata to CO2 from glacial to future concentrations. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. Biological Sciences, 367(1588), 537-546. [More Information]
  • Hill, J., Edwards, W., Franks, P. (2012). Size is not everything for desiccation-sensitive seeds. Journal of Ecology, 100(5), 1131-1140. [More Information]

2011

  • Ruszala, E., Beerling, D., Franks, P., Chater, C., Casson, S., Gray, J., Hetherington, A. (2011). Land Plants Acquired Active Stomatal Control Early in Their Evolutionary History. Current Biology, 21(12), 1030-1035. [More Information]
  • Drake, P., Froend, R., Franks, P. (2011). Linking hydraulic conductivity and photosynthesis to water-source partitioning in trees versus seedlings. Tree Physiology, 31(7), 763-773. [More Information]

2010

  • Tsvuura, Z., Griffiths, M., Gunton, R., Franks, P., Lawes, M. (2010). Ecological filtering by a dominant herb selects for shade tolerance in the tree seedling community of coastal dune forest. Oecologia, 164(4), 861-870. [More Information]
  • Hill, J., Edwards, W., Franks, P. (2010). How long does it take for different seeds to dry? Functional Plant Biology: an international journal of plant function, 37(6), 575-583. [More Information]
  • Humphreys, C., Franks, P., Rees, M., Bidartondo, M., Leake, J., Beerling, D. (2010). Mutualistic Mycorrhiza-Like Symbiosis in the Most Ancient Group of Land Plants. Nature Communications, 1(Article 103), 1-7. [More Information]
  • Beerling, D., Franks, P. (2010). PLANT SCIENCE The hidden cost of transpiration. Nature, 464(7288), 495-496.
  • Berry, J., Beerling, D., Franks, P. (2010). Stomata: key players in the earth system, past and present. Current Opinion in Plant Biology, 13(3), 233-240. [More Information]

2009

  • Franks, P., Beerling, D. (2009). CO2-forced evolution of plant gas exchange capacity and water-use efficiency over the Phanerozoic. Geobiology, 7(2), 227-236. [More Information]
  • Beerling, D., Franks, P. (2009). Evolution of stomatal function in 'lower' land plants. New Phytologist, 183, 921-925. [More Information]
  • Franks, P., Beerling, D. (2009). Maximum leaf conductance driven by CO2 effects on stomatal size and density over geologic time. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), 106(25), 10343-10347. [More Information]
  • Franks, P., Drake, P., Beerling, D. (2009). Plasticity in maximum stomatal conductance constrained by negative correlation between stomatal size and density: an analysis using Eucalyptus globulus. Plant, Cell and Environment, 32(12), 1737-1748.

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