Dr. Baxter uses high-throughput elemental profiling to measure the elemental composition of plant tissues including soybean seeds and corn kernels. These data are used to perform genetics and modeling to understand how the interactions of elements, genes, and the environment determine the elemental composition of plants and allow plants to adapt to different environments. BA: Chemistry (Goucher College); Ph.D.: Molecular and Cellular Structure and Chemistry (The Scripps Research Institute); Post-doc: Plant Bioinformatics/Ionomics (Purdue University)
Understanding how plants regulate element composition of tissues is critical for agriculture, the environment, and human health. Sustainably meeting the increasing food and biofuel demands of the planet will require growing crops with fewer inputs such as the primary macronutrients phosphorus (P) and potassium (K). P in fertilizer is non-renewable, too expensive for subsistence farmers, and inefficiently utilized by crops, leading to runoff and severe downstream ecological consequences. Plants comprise the major portion of the human diet, and improving their elemental nutrient content can greatly affect human health. However, efforts directed at a single element can have unforeseen deleterious effects. For example, limiting iron (Fe) or P can lead to increased accumulation of the toxic elements cadmium (Cd) and arsenic (As).
Ivan Baxter, Ph.D.
USDA Research Scientist, Assistant Member
975 N. Warson Rd.
St. Louis, MO 63132