Andrew A. Benson, 1917–2015


On January 16, 2015, Professor Andrew Alm Benson, one of the leading plant biochemists of the twentieth century, died in La Jolla, California, at the age of 97; he was born on September 24, 1917. Benson was known especially for his pioneering studies on photosynthesis (CO2 assimilation, carbon reduction cycle) and plant lipids (phospholipid phosphatidyl glycerol; and the sulfolipid, sulfoquinovosyl diglyceride). A photograph of Benson is shown in Fig. 1.

Photograph of Andrew A. Benson. Source: Annual Review of Plant Biology, Vol. 53, 2002, published with permission

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5



Phosphoglyceric acid


Ribulose bis-phosphate


Ribulose bis-phosphate carboxylase oxygenase


  1. Bassham JA, Benson AA, Kay LD, Harris AZ, Wilson AT, Calvin M (1954) The path of carbon in photosynthesis. XXI. The cyclic regeneration of carbon dioxide acceptor. J Am Chem Soc 76:1760–1770

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  2. Benson AA (2002a) Following the path of carbon in photosynthesis: a personal story. Photosynth Res 73:29–49

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  3. Benson AA (2002b) Paving the path. Annu Rev Plant Biol 53:1–25

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  4. Benson AA (2011) Adventures with carbons 11, 12, 13 and 14. Photosynth Res 110:9–12

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  5. Buchanan BB (2012) A conversation with Andrew Benson. Reflections on the discovery of the Calvin–Benson cycle. You Tube

  6. Buchanan BB, Douce R (2015) Andrew Benson honored on birthday no 97. Photosynth Res 123:115–116

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  7. Buchanan BB, Wong HJ (2013) A conversation with Andrew Benson: reflections on the discovery of the Calvin–Benson cycle. Photosynth Res 114:207–214

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  8. Buchanan BB, Douce R, Lichtenthaler HK (2007) Andrew A Benson. Photosynth Res 92:143–144

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  9. Gout E, Aubert S, Bligny R, Rebeille F, Nonomura A, Benson AA, Douce R (2000) Metabolism of methanol in plant cells. Carbon-13 nuclear magnetic resonance studies. Plant Physiol 123:287–296

    Article  PubMed Central  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  10. Govindjee (2010) Celebrating Andrew Alm Benson’s 93rd birthday. Photosynth Res 105:201–208

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  11. Harkewicz L (2006) Oral history of Andrew Alm Benson.

  12. Lichtenthaler HK (2007) Biosynthesis, accumulation and emission of carotenoids, α-tocopherol, plastoquinone and isoprene in leaves under high irradiance. Photosynth Res 92:163–179

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  13. Lichtenthaler HK, Buchanan B, Douce R (2008) Honoring A. Benson. Photosynth Res 96:181–184

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  14. Mayaudon J (1957) Study of association between the main nucleo-protein of green leaves and carboxydismutase. Enzymologia 18:343–354

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  15. Mayaudon J, Benson AA, Calvin M (1957) Ribulose-1,5-diphosphate from and CO2 fixation by Tetragonia expansa leaves extract. Biochim Biophys Acta 23:342–351

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  16. Morton O (2009) Eating the sun: how plants power the planet. Harper Perennial, New York

    Google Scholar 

  17. Nonomura AM, Benson AA (2014) The path of carbon in photosynthesis. XXXI. The role of lectins. J Plant Nutr 37:785–794

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  18. Photosynthesis Research (2007) A tribute to Andrew A. Benson, vol. 92, No. 2, pp. 142–271

  19. Walker T (2012) Botany: a blooming history: photosynthesis.

Download references


The black-and-white photograph of Professor Benson was reprinted with permission from the Annual Review of Plant Biology, Vol. 53, 2002 by Annual Reviews. The authors thank Arthur Nonomura for providing key information on Andrew Benson’s life and contributions made in the latter part of his career and his assistance in editing the manuscript.

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Hartmut K. Lichtenthaler.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Lichtenthaler, H.K., Buchanan, B.B., Douce, R. et al. Andrew A. Benson, 1917–2015. Photosynth Res 124, 131–135 (2015).

Download citation


  • The path of carbon in photosynthesis
  • Calvin–Benson cycle
  • RuBP
  • Rubisco
  • Phosphoglycerate
  • PGA
  • Sulfolipid