Prafullachandra Vishnu Sane obtained his BSc (Agriculture) and MSc (Agriculture) from Nagpur University, after which he served the Bureau of Indian Standards (1961-64) and then obtained PhD (Plant Biochemistry) (1968) from the University of Alberta, Canada. Thereafter, he worked as Assistant Research Botanist for three years at the University of California, Berkeley. He was awarded the prestigious Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship to work in Bochum University on electron transport and energy transduction in chloroplast membranes and showed the presence of proton translocating proteins responsible for generating a pH gradient across the membranes. He joined as Head, Agricultural Biochemistry Section, Bhabha Atomic Research Center (BARC) in 1972; and also worked as Director, National Botanical Research Institute (NBRI) (1984-97).
Academic and Research Achievements: Sane elucidated the structure and function relationship of the chloroplast membranes publishing a citation classic in 1971 in the Annual Review of Plant Physiology . While at BARC, he organized a group to work on temperature induced light emission from the photosynthetic membranes, enzymes of carbon and nitrogen metabolism in plants, and the photosynthetic efficiency of C4 plants. His studies on thermoluminescence provided evidence for the participation of charge pairs involving the reduced acceptors and oxidized donors of photosystem II in producing the emitted light. While at NBRI, he organized research on plant biochemistry, molecular biology and biotechnology. The tobacco transgenic plants expressing trypsin inhibitor stably over 5 generations was one of the first transgenics produced and published from India. His group also suggested a possible mechanism for male sterility in sorghum besides sequencing a large number of chloroplast genes from populus. He has over 160 research publications and several reviews to his credit. He has also guided about 20 PhD students.
Other Contributions: Dr Sane, as the Director of NBRI, modernized NBRI's infrastructure and established new departments including the Centre for Plant Molecular Biology. After superannuation, he established the Agri-Biotech Lab at Jain Irrigation Systems Ltd, Jalgaon and guided agriculture and food technology research of the company. He also served as a member of the INSA Council (1996-98).
Awards and Honours: Dr Sane was conferred Birbal Sawhney Gold Medal; Bharat Jyoti Scientist of the Year Award; and SS Bhatnagar Prize (1981). He was elected Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences (India), Allahabad; Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore; National Academy of Agricultural Sciences, New Delhi; and Maharashtra Academy of Sciences. He was President of the Indian Photobiology Society, International Society of Environmental Botanists.