Robert L. Baker

Assistant Professor

390 Pearson Hall  (513) 529-3175

Biographical Information

I am an evolutionary developmental biologist interested the origin and maintenance of plant form and function.  I tackle this problem from a microevolutionary perspective by examining how developmental genetics interact with the environment to influence phenotypic evolution.  I work in both natural and agroecological systems and combine methods and data from genomics, transcriptomics, anatomy, morphology, remote sensing, and physiology to gain an integrative understanding of organismal evolution and development. The basic research conducted in my lab has direct implications for understanding natural biodiversity, for conservation and restoration purposes, and for improving agricultural sustainability.  Currently, many projects in my lab focus on Brassica rapa (cabbages, turnips, and oil seeds similar to canola). We quantify the underlying genomic architecture and developmental processes that give rise to profoundly different morphologies and life histories within this single species.  The ultimate goal of these projects is to understand the changing relationship between plant structures (anatomy, morphology) and function (physiology, specifically water use efficiency) for crop improvement.

Baker Lab Website

Courses Taught

BIO 191 Plant Biology
BIO 314 Plant and Fungal Diversity
BIO 402-3/502-3 Plant Anatomy and Development

Recent Publications

Baker, R. L., W. F. Leong, N. An, S. Welch, and C. Weinig. In review. Predicting developmental phenotypes based on genotypes: A Bayesian function-valued trait approach to canalization and phenotypic plasticity in Brassica rapa leaves. G3: Genes | Genomes | Genetics.

Baker, R. L¹., W. F. Leong¹, M. T. Brock, M. Rubin, N. An, S. Welch, and C. Weinig. In revision. Leveraging Bayesian inference and high-throughput remote sensing indices for quantitative genetic analyses of Function-Valued Traits.  Theoretical and Applied Genetics. ¹Co-first authors.

An, N., S. Welch, R. J. Markelz, R. L. Baker, C. Palmer, J. Ta, J. Maloof and C. Weinig. 2017.Quantifying time-series of leaf morphology using 2D and 3D photogrammetry methods for high-throughput plant phenotyping. Computers and Electronics in Agriculture 135(2017):222–232.

Baker, R. L., Y. Yarkhunova, K. Vidal, B. Ewers, and C. Weinig. 2017. Polyploidy and the relationship between leaf structure and function: Implications for the evolution of correlations between anatomy, morphology, and physiology in Brassica.  BMC Plant Biology 17(3). 

An, N. C. M. Palmer, R. L. Baker, R. J. C. Markelz, J. Ta, J. N. Maloof, S. M. Welch, and C. Weinig. 2016. Plant high-throughput phenotyping using photogrammetry and imaging techniques to measure leaf length and rosette area.  Computers and Electronics in Agriculture 127:376-394.

Yarkhunova, Y. C., E. Edwards, R. L. Baker, B. E. Ewers, and C. Weinig. 2016. Selection during domestication affects the circadian clock and expression of ecophysiological traits. New Phytologist 210(1):133-144.

Baker, R. L., W. F. Leong, M. T. Brock, R. J. Cody Markelz, M. F. Covington, U. K. Devisetty, C. E. Edwards, J. Maloof, S. Welch, and C. Weinig. 2015. Modeling development and quantitative trait mapping reveal independent genetic modules for leaf size and shape. New Phytologist. 208(1) 257-268.

Baker, R. L., E. Scherbatskoy, C. Lay and P. K. Diggle. 2014. Developmental plasticity of shoot architecture: Morphological expression and ecologically relevant onset in locally adapted populations of Mimulus guttatus. International Journal of Plant Sciences 175(1):59-69.

Baker, R. L., L. C. Hileman and P. K. Diggle. 2012. Patterns of shoot architecture in locally adapted populations are linked to intraspecific differences in gene regulation. New Phytologist 196(1):271-281. 

Baker, R. L. and P. K. Diggle. 2011. Node-specific branching and heterochronic changes underlie population-level differences in Mimulus guttatus (Phrymaceae) shoot architecture. American Journal of Botany 98(12):1924-1934.

Diggle, P. K., N. J. Abrahamson, R. Baker, M. G. Barnes, T. L. Koontz, C. Lay, J. S. Medeiros, J. Murgel, M. G. M. Shaner, H. L. Simpson, C. C. Wu and D. L. Marshall. 2010. Dynamics of maternal and paternal effects on embryo and seed development in wild radish (Raphanus sativus). Annals of Botany 106(2):309-313.

Noyes, R.D., R. Baker, and B. Mai. 2007. Mendelian segregation for two-factor apomixis in Erigeron annuus (Asteraceae). Heredity 98:92-98.