Arbeitskreis (AK) Evolutionsbiologie
In Memory of Winslow R. Briggs (1928-2019)

Copyright © 2019

In Memory of Winslow R. Briggs (1928-2019)

The American biologist Winslow Russel Briggs (1928–2019) was a global leader in plant physiology, genetics and photobiology. After earning his PhD at Harvard (Cambridge, Massachusetts), he started his independent research program at Stanford University (California). Among many major contributions was his elegant experiment that conclusively demonstrated the role of auxin transport in the phototropic bending response of grass coleoptiles. During subsequent years as Professor of biology at Harvard University, Briggs focused on phytochrome and photomorphogenesis. In 1973, he re-located to Stanford to become Director of the Department of Plant Biology, Carnegie Institution for Science, and faculty member in the Biology Department at Stanford University. After his retirement (1993), he continued his research on “light and plant development” as an emeritus at Carnegie until the day of his death on February 11, 2019. Through his long research career, Briggs stayed at the cutting edge by re-inventing himself from a plant physiologist, to biochemist, geneticist, and molecular biologist. He made numerous discoveries, including the LOV-domain photoreceptor phototropin. Winslow Briggs, who was also a naturalist and gifted pianist, inspired and promoted the work of generations of young scientists – as mentor, colleague and friend.


Invitation Letter - November 13, 2018, Stanford CA-USA

Kutschera, U., Wang, Z.-Y. (2019) Light and plant development: the discovery of phototropins by Winslow R. Briggs (1928–2019). Plant Signal. Behav., 1–9.

Recent Research Papers co-authored by U. Kutschera & W. R. Briggs:

Kutschera, U., Briggs, W. R. (2009) From Charles Darwin's botanical country-house studies to modern plant biology. Plant Biol. 11, 785 – 795.


Kutschera, U., Briggs, W. R. (2012) Root phototropism: From dogma to the mechanism of blue light perception. Planta 235, 443 - 452.


Kutschera, U., Briggs, W. R. (2013) Seedling development in buckwheat and the discovery of the photomorphogenic shade-avoidance response. Plant Biol. 15, 931 − 940.


Deng, Z., Oses-Prieto, J. A., Kutschera, U., Tseng, T.-S., Hao, L., Burlingame, A. L., Wang, Z., Briggs, W. R. (2014) Blue light-induced proteomic changes in etiolated Arabidopsis seedlings. J. Proteome Res. 13, 2524–2533.


Kutschera, U., Briggs, W. R. (2016) Phototropic solar tracking in sunflower plants: an integrative perspective. Ann. Bot. 117, 1–8.


Kutschera, U., Briggs, W. R. (2019) Photomorphogenesis of the root system in developing sunflower seedlings: a role for sucrose. Plant Biol. 21, 627–633.