Photosynthesis Research

, Volume 134, Issue 1, pp 93–105 | Cite as

The paths of Andrew A. Benson: a radio-autobiography

  • Arthur M. NonomuraEmail author
  • Barry Holtz
  • Karl Y. Biel
  • Robert Cooney
  • George Lorimer
  • Govindjee


Andrew A. Benson, one of the greatest biochemists of our time, is celebrated on his centennial by the authors with whom he interacted performing experiments or contemplating metabolic pathways in a wide range of biological kingdoms. He charted the chemical flow of energy in cells, tissues, organs, plants, animals, and ecosystems. Benson collaborated with hundreds of colleagues to examine the natural history of autotrophy, mixotrophy, and heterotrophy while elucidating metabolic pathways. We present here a biological perspective of his body of studies. Benson lived from September 24, 1917, to January 16, 2015. Out of over 1000 autoradiograms he produced in his life, he left a legacy of 50 labeled autoradiograms to the authors who tell the story of his life’s work that resulted in Benson’s Protocol (Nonomura et al., Photosynth Res 127:369–378, 2016) that has been applied, over the years, for the elucidation of major metabolic pathways by many scientists.


Carbon reactions of photosynthesis Golden age of metabolic biology Radioisotope 



The authors express their sincere gratitude to Dee Benson and Victor Vacquier. The field pictures (Figs. 6 and 7) were provided by Dee Benson, who was by Andy’s side during their 45 years of marriage as they traveled on scientific excursions and life adventures. Dee and Andy had great fun! We give special thanks to Thomas D. Sharkey, William W. Adams III, Hartmut Lichtenthaler, an anonymous reviewer, and Rajni Govindjee for their help during the preparation of this manuscript.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 27 KB)
11120_2017_410_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (2.1 mb)
Supplementary material 2 (PDF 2141 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Arthur M. Nonomura
    • 1
    Email author
  • Barry Holtz
    • 2
  • Karl Y. Biel
    • 3
  • Robert Cooney
    • 4
  • George Lorimer
    • 5
  • Govindjee
    • 6
  1. 1.Carbon Reactions of Photosynthesis SectorBrandt iHammerPowellUSA
  2. 2.Holtz Biopharma ConsultingBryanUSA
  3. 3.Institute of Basic Biological ProblemsRussian Academy of SciencesPushchinoRussia
  4. 4.Department of Public Health ServicesUniversity of Hawaii at ManoaHonoluluUSA
  5. 5.Department of Chemistry and BiochemistryUniversity of MarylandCollege ParkUSA
  6. 6.Department of Plant Biology, Department of Biochemistry, and Center of Biophysics & Quantitative BiologyUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignUrbanaUSA

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