Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

About the PNAS Member Editor
Name Baldwin, Ian T.
Location Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology
Primary Field Plant Biology
Secondary Field Evolutionary Biology
 Election Citation
Baldwin's pioneering work combines state-of-the-art biochemistry and genetics with ecological experiments in native settings. He showed that herbivore induced defenses incur large fitness costs for the attacked plants. He demonstrated that plants use volatile signals to manipulate the behavior of beneficial insects and to communicate among themselves.
 Research Interests
Baldwin is distinguished by having integrated the advances in molecular biology into the study of ecological interactions to catalyze a change in how ecologists examine ecological interactions and falsify hypotheses and by having integrated the whole-organismic expertise of ecologists into the study of gene function. In this research program, Baldwin and colleagues regularly use a nature preserve in the Great Basin Desert to conduct experiments with genetically modified Nicotiana attenuata plants in the plant's native environment to understand the genes that matter for survival in the rough and tumble of nature. The genetic transformations, and the molecular biological and chemical characterizations of the plants occurs at the Max-Planck Institute in Jena, while the field releases are conducted at the Lytle Ranch Preserve, which is owned and operated by the Brigham Young University. The research program has uncovered how plants resist (via direct and direct defenses), tolerate (by changing source-sink relationships) and escape (by changing pollinator systems) attack from herbivores, responses which are all elicited by the plant's perception of insect-specific elicitors introduced into wounds while feeding, in addition to how plants optimize pollination services, establish opportunistic mutualisms with soil bacteria and use their circadian clock to anticipate important ecological events.

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