George Ratcliffe

George Ratcliffe

Tutor in Biochemistry; Professor of Plant Sciences;
MA DPhil Oxf
Educated at several schools in the North of England and Scotland, and trained as a chemist at Merton, George Ratcliffe subscribes to the view of his mentor R.J.P. Williams that ‘Biology is the search for the chemistry that works’. He has resisted the temptation to move away from New College ever since his appointment as a University lecturer in 1984. He is Head of the Department of Plant Sciences, a Curator of the University Libraries and one of the College’s nominated Trustees on the Harpur Trust (formerly the Bedford Charity). In the latter capacity he serves as a Governor of Bedford Girls’ School.


As well as covering a range of topics in tutorials for the Biochemists in College, Professor Ratcliffe contributes to the lecture courses and practical classes in both Biochemistry and Biological Sciences in the Departments of Biochemistry, Plant Sciences, and Zoology. He also supervises Biochemistry Part II research projects.

Research Interests

Following pioneering work on the application of nuclear magnetic resonance to plant tissues, Professor Ratcliffe developed a longstanding interest in heterotrophic plant metabolism, with a focus on the organisation, regulation and function of the central metabolic network. He has a particular interest in the measurement and prediction of intracellular metabolic fluxes – the flows of material through the network that are crucial in determining the performance and productivity of cells and organisms. Fluxes can be deduced using a suite of computational and experimental tools, and the resulting metabolic phenotypes can be used to provide a system-wide view of the impact of genetic intervention and environmental perturbation in wild type, mutant and transgenic plants.

Selected Publications

  • C.Y.M. Cheung et al. (2014) A diel flux balance model captures interactions between light and dark metabolism during day-night cycles in C3 and Crassulacean acid metabolism leaves. Plant Physiology 165, 917-929.
  • N.J. Kruger and R.G. Ratcliffe (2015) Fluxes through plant metabolic networks: measurements, predictions, insights and challenges. Biochemical Journal 465, 27-38.
  • J.J. Terpolilli et al. (2016) Lipogenesis and redox balance in nitrogen-fixing pea bacteroids. Journal of Bacteriology 198, 2864-2875.
  • Y.Zhang et al. (2017) Protein-protein interactions and metabolite channelling in the plant tricarboxylic acid cycle. Nature Communications 8, 15212.
  • S. Shameer et al. (2018) Computational analysis of the productivity-potential of CAM plants. Nature Plants 4, in press.
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