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Frederick Loring Crane (1925–2016): Discoverer of coenzyme Q10 and rediscoverer of plastoquinone

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Fig. 1

Source: Personal collection of Charles Arntzen

Fig. 2

Source: Louis Sherman and Placido Navas

Fig. 3


  1. Crane FL (1954) A light activated accumulation of niacin, in tomato leaf disks. Plant Phys 29:188–190

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  2. Crane FL (1959) Isolation of two quinones with coenzyme Q activity from alfalfa. Plant Physiol 34:546–551

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  3. Crane FL (1989) Comments on the discovery of coenzyme Q. Biochim Biophys Acta 1000:358–361

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  4. Crane FL (2010) Discovery of plastoquinones: a personal perspective. Photosynth Res 103:195–209

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  5. Crane FL, Hatefi Y, Lester RL, Widmer C (1957) Isolation of a quinone from beef heart mitochondria. Biochim Biophys Acta 25:220–221

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  6. Crane FL, Löw H, Sun I, Navas P, Gvozdjakova A (2014) Membrane coenzyme Q: evidence for a role in autism. Biol Targets Therapy 8:199–205

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I thank Govindjee for inviting me to write this tribute for publication in Photosynthesis Research and for editing it. I also thank Charlie Arntzen, Melanie A. Lindsay, Placido Navas, Louis Sherman, and William Cramer for their help. In addition, I recognize the Web site where some information on Fred is available:

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Correspondence to Richard A. Dilley.

Appendix 1

Appendix 1

Charles J. Arntzen (Arizona State University, USA)

“I will always be indebted to Fred Crane for guiding me into research on chloroplasts. When I arrived at Purdue in 1967, I joined about a dozen graduate students who were in Fred’s laboratory—about half working on mitochondria and half on chloroplasts. I wanted to study ‘binary membrane structure’—a hot topic of that time, and use electron microscopy because it was a cutting edge technique. Perhaps I chose the green part of the group because the Monday morning ritual of dissecting tissue out of a cooler full of beef hearts for mitochondrial isolation did not appeal to me. It was easier to grind up some spinach leaves from the grocery store. With all his students to guide, Fred decided to ‘farm me out’ to Dick Dilley in the summer of 1968. I didn’t question this, and quickly saw that it was a wonderful opportunity to get the full benefit of the Kettering Research Laboratory, which was a hotbed of photosynthesis activity of that era. After two and a half years of oscillating between the Purdue and Kettering labs, with Fred and Dick as wonderful mentors, I went off on my own in 1970 to a faculty position at the U. of Illinois. Fred always remained a supportive friend who I could call on for help. I remember him as a generous man who encouraged intellectual pursuits by setting an example of superb research and creative science.”

Placido Navas (Spain)

“I cannot be impartial but very much subjective when I talk about Fred Crane because he changed my view of science and opened a new highway that I am still touring. The high influence of Fred L Crane has not been only based on his research published in more than 500 papers, but on his personality and personal treatment when talking to him. He did long-term visits in research institutes and universities around the world, from Australia to Stockholm, where he imprinted a new and currently valid way to see science, scientists and publication politics. He always maintained that i f a paper is good, it is going to be read wherever it is published, and avoiding the climbing obsession of impact factor indices (also see:”

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Dilley, R.A. Frederick Loring Crane (1925–2016): Discoverer of coenzyme Q10 and rediscoverer of plastoquinone. Photosynth Res 131, 237–239 (2017).

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  • Plastoquinone
  • Karolinska Institute
  • Beef Heart
  • Silver Medal
  • Foundation Award