Don Grierson (geneticist) British geneticist

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Don Grierson

Donald Grierson

(1945-10-01) 1 October 1945 (age 75)
Alma materUniversity of East Anglia (BSc)
University of Edinburgh (PhD)
AwardsBertebos Prize
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity of Nottingham
Zhejiang University
ThesisSynthesis of ribosomal ribonucleic acid in developing primary leaves of Phaseolus aureus (1972)
Doctoral advisorUlrich Loening[1]
InfluencesHarry Smith[2][3]

Don Grierson OBE FRS FRSB (born 1 October 1945)[4] is a British geneticist, and Emeritus Professor at University of Nottingham.[5]


Grierson graduated from the University of East Anglia with a degree in Biological Sciences in 1967,[4] after working for a short time in an industrial research lab, he obtained his PhD in Plant Science from the University of Edinburgh in 1972 for research on ribosomal ribonucleic acid in developing primary leaves of the mung bean Phaseolus aureus supervised by Ulrich Loening.[1]

Career and research

Grierson was a member of academic staff at University of Nottingham for over 40 years[6] where he was awarded a Doctor of Science (DSc) degree in 1999. He was the founding professor of the School of Biosciences before becoming Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research.

Grierson discovered several plant genes and studied their role in tomato ripening. He also was the first to identify and characterise genes for ACC oxidase (ACO) and demonstrated its role in the synthesis of the hormone ethylene.[7] Grierson was among the first to achieve silencing of plant genes in transgenic plants using antisense (1988, 1990)[8] and sense genes (1990). He was involved in creating a genetically modified tomato in the 1990s which ripened more slowly, a tomato purée made from the tomatoes was the first genetically modified food to be sold in the UK.[9] His research collaborators include Harry Smith.[2][3]

Awards and honours

Grierson was elected fellow of the Institute of Biology in 1985, awarded a research medal by the Royal Agricultural Society of England for "outstanding research in agriculture" in 1990. In 2000 he appointed Order of the British Empire (OBE) for "services to plant gene regulation".[10] In 2001 he received the Bertebos Prize, from the Royal Swedish Academy for Agriculture & Forestry for "pioneering research in modern plant biotechnology". He is now an emeritus professor at Nottingham and also has a part-time position as Guang Biao professor at Zhejiang University. In 2017, he was elected as a foreign member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering (CAE).[11]

Notable relatives

His daughter Claire Grierson is also a geneticist specialising in plant root-hair cells, and a Professor at the University of Bristol. In 2017 she was appointed Head of the School of Biological Sciences.[12]


  1. ^ a b Grierson, Donald (1972). The synthesis of ribosomal ribonucleic acid in developing primary leaves of Phaseolus aureus (PhD thesis). University of Edinburgh. hdl:1842/13956. OCLC 846263643. EThOS Free to read
  2. ^ a b Grierson, Donald; Smith, Harry (1973). "The Synthesis and Stability of Ribosomal RNA in Blue-Green Algae". European Journal of Biochemistry. 36 (1): 280–285. doi:10.1111/j.1432-1033.1973.tb02911.x. ISSN 0014-2956. PMID 4200178. closed access
  3. ^ a b Grierson, Donald (2018). "Harry Smith. 19 September 1935—9 February 2015". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 64: 387–399. doi:10.1098/rsbm.2017.0045. ISSN 0080-4606. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ a b Anon (2017). "Greirson, Prof. Donald". Who's Who. (online Oxford University Press ed.). A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.18183. (subscription or UK public library membership required) (subscription required)
  5. ^ "Professor Don Grierson". University of Nottingham. Archived from the original on 8 February 2012. Retrieved 31 December 2011.
  6. ^ "Professor Don Grierson: Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Professor of Plant Physiology". Archived from the original on 19 May 2007.
  7. ^ Lalit M. Srivastava (27 August 2002). Plant Growth and Development: Hormones and Environment. Academic Press. pp. 238–. ISBN 978-0-08-051403-1. Retrieved 24 April 2013.
  8. ^ Anne Simon Moffat (November–December 1988). "Researchers Pursue "Anti-Sense" Technology in Quest for Novel Drugs and Agriproducts". Genetic Engineering and Biotech News.
  9. ^ "A puree genius at his work". Times Higher Education. 17 July 1998. Retrieved 23 August 2010.
  10. ^ "The Queen's Birthday Honours - OBEs: A - K". BBC. 16 June 2000.
  11. ^ "Four Professors Newly Elected as Chinese Academicians".
  12. ^ "Don Grierson". 4 February 2009. Archived from the original on 19 May 2007. Retrieved 23 August 2010.
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