Winter'14 Departmental Seminar Series


Title: King Georges, Vampires and Herbicides
Franck Dayan - Research, Plant Physiologist, USDA-ARS Natural Products Utilization Research Unit, Thad Cochran Research Center, U.S.A.



The porphyrin pathway is ubiquitous in the biological realm, serving throughout the plant and animal kingdoms as the assembly line for the most abundant pigments in nature. The ring shaped porphyrin molecules bind an array of metal ions such as magnesium in chlorophylls, iron in heme, nickel in coenzyme F430, and cobalt in vitamin B12.  These porphyrin-derived pigments can be called the “colors of life,” in the sense that these rings are necessary to sustain key activities in nearly all organisms. It should come as no surprise that disruption of the porphyrin pathway has remarkably far-reaching consequences. In fact, derangements of porphyrin metabolism has left their marks on the legacy of King George III and the founding of the United States, on the elaboration of the vampire mythology, and on the development of herbicides.

Biography:  Franck Dayan is a Research Plant Physiologist at the Natural Products Utilization Research Unit of USDA, ARS.   His work focuses on the mechanisms of action of natural and synthetic herbicides.  Franck was born in France came to the USA as an exchange student.  He obtained his B.S. (1988) and M.S. (1992) in Botany from Stephen F. Austin State University in Texas.  He then received his Ph.D. in Plant Physiology from Auburn University in Alabama in 1995.

He is currently serving as treasurer for the International Weed Science Society.  He has served as treasurer of the Phytochemical Society of North America from 2006 to 2011 and will assume the presidency of that society in August 2014.  He is a Regional Editor for the Allelopathy Journal and an Associate Editor for Weed Science and Pesticide Biochemistry and Physiology.

Franck has published 172 publications that include 114 peer-reviewed scientific articles and 48 book chapters and reviews in scientific journals. Dr. Dayan’s authorship has an h-index of 41, which reflects his sustained research productivity and significant impact on the research of other scientists (at least 5174 citations as of March, 2014). He has been invited to numerous national and international conferences and symposia.