Ian T. Baldwin What New Insights into Plants' Defense Mechanisms Can Be Gained by Studying Their Interactions with Their Habitat?

Ian T. Baldwin is Founding Director of the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany, as well as Adjunct Professor at the Friedrich Schiller University Jena and the Brigham Young University (Provo, USA). His research focuses on the traits that enable plants to survive in the real world. In 2002, Baldwin founded the International Max Planck Research School (Jena). He also supports open access publishing as one of the senior editors of the open access journal eLife. The Thomson Reuters Web of Science ranked Ian Baldwin as one of “The World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds” in 2015 and he was a highly cited researcher on thomsonreuters.com in 2016.

Area of Research

Molecular Ecology

Ian T. Baldwin and Jack C. Schultz. "Rapid Changes in Tree Leaf Chemistry Induced by Damage: Evidence for Communication Between Plants." American Association for the Advancement of Science 221 (1983): 277-279.  
Ian T. Baldwin. "Jasmonate-Induced Responses are Costly but Benefit Plants under Attack in Native Populations." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 95 (1998): 8113-8118.  
André Kessler and Ian T. Baldwin. "Defensive Function of Herbivore-Induced Plant Volatile Emissions in Nature." Science 291 (2001): 2141-2144.  
Meredith C. Schuman, Kathleen Barthel and Ian T. Baldwin. "Herbivory-Induced Volatiles Function as Defenses Increasing Fitness of the Native Plant Nicotiana Attenuata in Nature." eLIFE 1 (2012): e00007.  
Rakesh Santhanam, Van Thi Luu, Arne Weinhold, Jay Goldberg, Youngjoo Oh and Ian T. Baldwin. "Native Root-Associated Bacteria Rescue a Plant From a Sudden-Wilt Disease that Emerged During Continuous Cropping." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 112 (2015): E5013-E5020.  

since 2000

Adjunct Professor

Brigham Young University

since 1999

Adjunct Professor

Friedrich Schiller University Jena (Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena)

since 1996

Founding Director

Max Planck Society (more details)

Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology


Affiliated Professor

Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University of Denmark


Adjunct Scientist

Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research


Adjunct Professor

Cornell University

Section of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology


Co-Founder and Director

Virtual Institute for Biotic Interactions


Founder and Director

International Max Planck Research School, Jena


Managing Director

Max Planck Society (more details)

Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology



State University of New York at Buffalo

Department of Biology


Associate Professor

State University of New York at Buffalo

Department of Biology


Assistant Professor

State University of New York at Buffalo

Department of Biology


PhD in Chemical Ecology

Cornell University

Section of Neurobiology and Behavior


Bachelor in Biology

Dartmouth College

- American Association for the Advancement of Science (2016)

- European Molecular Biology Organization EMBO (2014)

- National Academy of Science (USA) (2013)

- Nationale Akademie der Wissenschaften Leopoldina (2013)

- Berlin Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften (2001)

- Wissenschaftskolleg Berlin (2000)


- Jean-Marie Delwart Award (2014)

- European Research Council (ERC) Senior Researcher Award (2012-2017)

- International Society for Chemical Ecology, Silverstein-Simeone Award (1998)

- Florence Fletcher Botany Prize, Dartmouth College (1980)


- A.D. White Graduate Fellowship, Cornell University (1985-1988)

- National Science Foundation, Predoctoral Fellowship (1985-1988)

- MPG – Establishment of an International Max Planck Research School in Jena, "The Exploration of Ecological Interactions with Molecular and Chemical Techniques"

- MPG – Establishment of a Proteomics Facility in Jena

- MPG – Upgrade of the NMR Facility in Jena

- DFG – FOR 456 – The Role of Biodiversity for Element Cycling and Trophic Interactions: An Experimental Approach in a Grassland Community

- DFG – SPP1152 – Evolution of Metabolic Diversity. The Evolution of Herbivore-Regulated Secondary Metabolism During Polyploid Speciation in Native Nicotiana

- DFG – Graduiertenkollegs: Funktions- und Regenerationsanalyse belasteter Ökosysteme

- EU – Marie Curie Research Training Network - EU Framework 6, Biotic Interactions in the Rhizosphere as Structuring Forces for Plant Communities (BIORHIZ)

- Helmholtz Society – Establishment of a Virtual Institute of Biotic Interactions

- NATO – Using Combinatorial Peptide Libraries to Find Systemin-Like Signals in Nicotiana

- MPG – Partnergroup India, Max Planck Partner Groups at Indian Partner Institutions, Developing a Pest Protection Strategy for Chickpea Based on Proteinase Inhibitor Defenses

- Humboldt Foundation – Programm zur Förderung von Instituts-partnerschaften. Chemistry, Ecological Function and Biological Activity of Acyclic Diterpenoid Glycosides and Related Secondary Metabolites in Different Plants of the Family Solanaceae

- MPG – NGS-Einzelprojekt, Sequencing of the Nicotiana Attenuata Genome

- MPG – MPG Partnergroup of the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology at the Institute of Science Education and Research, Kolkata

- MPG – MPG Kick-Off Meeting of the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology at the Institute of Science Education and Research, Kolkata

- EU7 – [IDEAS] European Research Council (ERC) Ecological Performance of Arrhythmic Plants in Nature

- HFSP – (Human Frontier Science Program) Are Roots in the Dark?

- MPG – MPG Partnergroup in Host-Parasite Interactions at the Kunming Institute of Botany

- GLRP – (Global Research Laboratory Program South Korea)

© Maximilian Dörrbecker

Max Planck Society

"The Max Planck Society is Germany's most successful research organization. Since its establishment in 1948, no fewer than 18 Nobel laureates have emerged from the ranks of its scientists, putting it on a par with the best and most prestigious research institutions worldwide. The more than 15,000 publications each year in internationally renowned scientific journals are proof of the outstanding research work conducted at Max Planck Institutes – and many of those articles are among the most-cited publications in the relevant field." (Source)


Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology

"The Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena investigates the role, diversity and characteristics of chemical signals which control the interactions between organisms and their environment. Scientists from the fields of ecology, biochemistry, organic chemistry, entomology, ethology, and insect physiology work closely together in the Institute in order to understand the complex system of chemical communication. Their research focuses on the co-evolution of plants and insects. The fact that plants usually spend their entire lives in one place forces them to use effective strategies to guarantee that their offspring are spread and also to protect themselves against pests and diseases. To this effect, plants have developed a wide range of chemical signalling compounds that enable them to optimise their adaptation to their respective environments. These so-called allelochemicals are used to, among other things, attract pollinators, fend off herbivores and pests, fight diseases and keep unwelcome competitors away. Plants also synthesise mixtures of many organic substances that have a deterrent or toxic effect on herbivores. As a countermeasure, insects that feed on plants adapt accordingly and, for their part, try to overcome plant defences." (Source)


In the past decades plants were viewed primarily as “growth machines” that produce oxygen and biomaterials. The research projects presented in this video look at plants more as organisms that have to solve the challenges of life. The studies analyzed the reaction of plants to certain ecological interactions in a manner that brings together molecular biology and ecology. This reunion of biological sub-disciplines enables scientists to understand gene functions that are the basis for the elaborated chemical responses to environmental stimuli that native plants have developed over the course of their evolution. As IAN T. BALDWIN explains, this new perspective on plants is helpful to bring “ecological sophistication” back to cultivated plants in order to make them more resistant to harsh habitats.

LT Video Publication DOI: https://doi.org/10.21036/LTPUB10201

Rediscovering the Bush Telegraph

  • Ian T. Baldwin
  • Nature
  • Published in 2015
Ian T. Baldwin. "Rediscovering the Bush Telegraph." Nature 522 (2015): 282-283.