Professor Christopher Atkinson
+44 (0)1634 88 3199
Professor Christopher Atkinson joined the University of Greenwich from East Malling Research in late 2012. Previously he worked for Unilever Research Ltd, Welwyn, and for the Agriculture Food Research Council at Rothamsted Research Station, in Harpenden (1971–76) as assistant (ASO) to the analyst. After obtaining advanced City & Guilds qualifications in analytical chemistry at Hatfield Polytechnic (now the University of Hertfordshire), he read for a degree in applied biology at London University (1976–79), followed by a PhD at UNCW Bangor (1982) with Professor J.F. Farrar in the department of J.L. Harper FRS. Professor Atkinson has held postdoctoral research positions in the Department of Forestry, University of Wales (1982–84) with M.P. Denne; Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia, USA (1984–87) with W.E. Winner; was a visiting scholar at Stanford University, California, USA (1984–87) working with H.A. Mooney; worked in the Department of Biological Sciences, Lancaster University, UK (1987–90) and, with a NERC Research Fellowship (1990–91), worked with T.A. Mansfield FRS and W.J. Davies CBE. He moved to Horticulture Research International (HRI), East Malling as a Senior Scientific Officer in Crop Physiology (1992), working with H.G. Jones. Professor Atkinson was promoted to Principle Research Scientist in the Perennial Quality and Biotechnology, East Malling (1997) and became an Executive Member of EMR's Science Management Team (2004–12) and Head of Science (2006–11) and then Deputy Chief Executive and Senior Programme Leader, resource use and sustainable production (2011–12) working with P.J. Gregory (CEO).
Professor Atkinson also held positions as:
- Executive Director of East Malling Limited (2009–10)
- Executive Director of Plant Vaccines Limited (2009–11)
- Executive Director of Malling Limited (2010–12).
Currently, he is the Professor of Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change, Natural Resources Institute, University of Greenwich (2012 to present).
Professor Atkinson's research interests focus on understanding the impacts of environmental stress on the growth and development of crops, with particular expertise in perennial woody crops, such as apples and pears. His work includes studies of the influence of water on fruit growth and quality, and the impacts of chilling on flowering and cropping, and developing strategies to optimise production through understanding the processes which control fruit set and retention. The drought stress tolerance mechanisms of different crops, particularly those linked to the root behaviour of woody crops, have been extensively investigated.
Recent work is directed at the health benefits of fruit consumption, particularly with respect to agronomic ways to enhance bioactive secondary metabolites, such as antioxidants. Research also includes non-food crops, i.e. perennial biomass crops, enhancing artemisinin production (an antimalarial) in A. annua, pharmaceutical protein production (e.g. cyanovirin) in GM tobacco and biochar sequestration impacts on agriculture. This research provides the foundation of his vision for developing ways to intensify food production using sustainable approaches which facilitate crops and growing systems which cope with climate change stress, particularly drought.
He has also devoted time to promoting the understanding of science issues within the food production industry and with the general public.
- Atkinson, Christopher J., Davies, Michael J., Taylor, June M. and Longbottom, Helen (2013) Linking ascorbic acid production in Ribes nigrum with fruit development and changes in sources and sinks. Annals of Botany, 111 (4). pp. 703-712. ISSN 0305-7364 (Print), 1095-8290 (Online) (doi:10.1093/aob/mct026)
- Atkinson, Christopher J. and Else, Mark A. (2012) Hydraulic conductivity and PAT determine hierarchical resource partitioning and ramet development along Fragaria stolons. Journal of Experimental Botany, 63 (14). pp. 5093-5104. ISSN 0022-0957 (Print), 1460-2431 (Online) (doi:10.1093/jxb/ers155)
- Atkinson*, C.J., Fitzgerald J., Hipps, N.A. (2010). Potential mechanisms for achieving agricultural benefits from biochar application to temperate soils: A review. Plant and Soil, 337, 1-18.
- Else, M.A. and Atkinson, C.J. (2010). Impacts of climate change on UK fruit production. Outlook on Agricultural, Special issue, Climate change, Agriculture and Food security, 39 (4), 257-262.
- Colgan, Richard, Atkinson, Christopher J., Paul, Matthew, Hassan, Sally, Drake, Pascal M.W., Sexton, Amy L., Santa-Cruz, Simon, James, David, Hamp, Keith, Gutteridge, Colin and Ma, Julian K-C. (2010) Optimisation of contained Nicotiana tabacum cultivation for the production of recombinant protein pharmaceuticals. Transgenic Research, 19 (2). pp. 241-256. ISSN 0962-8819 (print), 1573-9368 (online) (doi:10.1007/s11248-009-9303-y)
- Else, Mark A., Janowiak, Franciszek, Atkinson, Christopher J. and Jackson, Michael B. (2009) Root signals and stomatal closure in relation to photosynthesis, chlorophyll a fluorescence and adventitious rooting of flooded tomato plants. Annals of Botany, 103 (2). pp. 313-323. ISSN 0305-7364 (Print), 1095-8290 (Online) (doi:10.1093/aob/mcn208)
- Davies, Michael J., Atkinson, Christopher J., Burns, Corrinne, Woolley, Jack G., Hipps, Neil A., Arroo, Randolph R.J., Dungey, Nigel, Robinson, Trevor, Brown, Paul, Flockart, Ian, Hill, Colin, Smith, Lydia and Bentley, Steven (2009) Enhancement of artemisinin concentration and yield in response to optimization of nitrogen and potassium supply to Artemisia annua. Annals of Botany, 104 (2). pp. 315-323. ISSN 0305-7364 (doi:10.1093/aob/mcp126)
- Atkinson, C.J., Harrison-Murray, R.S. and Taylor, J.M. (2008). Rapid flood induced stomatal closure accompanies xylem sap transportation of root derived acetaldehyde and ethanol in Forsythia. Environmental and Experimental Botany, 64, 196-205.
- Sunley, R.J., Jones, H.G., Atkinson, C.J. and Brennan, R.M. (2006). Chill unit models and recent changes in the occurrence of Winter chill and Spring frost in the United Kingdom. Journal of Horticultural Science and Biotechnology, 81, 949-958.
- Atkinson C.J., Dodds P.A.A., Y.Y. Ford, J. Le Mière, J.M. Taylor P.S. Blake and N. Paul. (2006). Effects of cultivar, fruit number and reflected photosynthetically active radiation on Fragaria x ananassa productivity and fruit ellagic acid and ascorbic acid concentration. Annals of Botany, 97 (3), 429-441.
- Else, M.A., Stankiewicz. A.P., Webster, A.D. and Atkinson, C.J. (2004). The role of polar auxin transport through pedicels of sweet cherry in relation to fruitlet retention. Journal of Experimental Botany, 55, 2099-2109.
- Atkinson, C.J., Else, M.A. Taylor, L. and Dover, C.J. (2003). Root and stem hydraulic conductivity as determinants of growth potential in grafted trees of apple (Malus pumila Mill.) Journal of Experimental Botany, 54, 1221-1229.
- Atkinson, C.J., Policarpo, M., Webster, A.D. and Kuden, A. (1999). Drought tolerance of apple rootstocks: Production and partitioning of dry matter. Plant and Soil, 206, 223-235.
- Atkinson, C.J., Taylor, J.M., Wilkins, D. and Besford, R.T. (1997). Effects of elevated CO2 on chloroplast components, gas exchange and growth of oak and cherry. Tree Physiology, 17(5), 319-325.
- Atkinson, C.J., Ruiz, L.P. and Mansfield, T.A. (1992). Calcium in xylem sap and the regulation of its delivery to the shoot. Journal of Experimental Botany, 43, 1315-1324.
- Atkinson, C.J., Wookey, P.A. and Mansfield, T.A. (1991). Atmospheric pollution and the sensitivity of stomata on barley leaves to abscisic acid and carbon dioxide. New Phytologist, 117, 535-541.
- Mansfield, T.A., Hetherington, A.M., Atkinson, C.J. (1990). Some current aspects of stomatal physiology. Annual Review of Plant Physiology and Plant Molecular Biology, 41, 55-75.
- Winner, W.E., Lefohn, A.S., Cotter, I.S., Greitner, C.S., Nellessen, J., McEvoy, L.R., Olson, R.L., Atkinson, C.J. and Moore, L.D. (1989). Plant responses to elevational gradients of 03 exposure in Virginia. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science US, 86, 8828-8832.
- Member, British Ecological Society (1997 to present)
- Member, International Society of Horticultural Science (1992 to present)
- Member, Board of Advisors to the New Phytologist (1995–98)
- Associate editor, Journal of Horticultural Science and Biotechnology (1995–2004).
- Member, Board of Reviewers of Journal of Experimental Botany (1990 to present)
- Member, Society of Experimental Biology (1980 to present)
- Editor, Plant Growth Regulation (2003–04)
- Editor in Chief, Plant Growth Regulation (2004–09)
- Visiting Member, Academic staff at Reading University (2011–16)
- Member, Institute of Horticulture (2011–12)
- Fellow, Society of Biology (2011 to present)
- Fellow, Institute of Horticulture (2012 to present)
- Reviewer for the Biotechnological and Biological Research Council (2008 to present)
- Appointed to the BBSRC UK Pool of Experts (2011 to present).
- Appointed to the UK BBSRC Horticulture and Potato Initiative – Steering Group and reviewer (2012 to present).
- Member of stakeholder group for the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Science and Technology in Agriculture, UK (2009 to present).
- Reviewer for Acta Horticulturae-International Society of Horticultural Science, Annals of Botany, Biologicals, Chemical Industry and Chemical Engineering Quarterly, Environmental Science and Technology, Experimental Agriculture, Experimental and Environmental Biology, Functional Plant Biology, International Journal of Molecular Science, Journal of Experimental Botany, Journal of Horticultural Science and Biotechnology, Malaria Journal, Planta, Plant Growth Regulation, Plant and Soil, Royal Agricultural Society of England, Tree Physiology, and other international plant journals.
International research proposal reviewer for the following:
- USDA–National Research Initiative, Plant Response to the Environment
- University Grants Committee, Hong Kong
- Invited reviewer, BBSRC Industrial Partnership Awards, 2009
- The International Foundation for Science, 2010
- BiodivERsA2011-83 programme, 2011
- Swiss National Science Foundation, 2011
- USDA, NIFA programme, 2012
- Member of the International Atomic Energy Authority, Fruits Working Group.
- External PhD examiner at Lancaster University, University of Reading, University of Dundee and University of Bristol.
- Judge at the National Fruit Show (1996 to present).