Poisonous Plant Research Lab
1150 E 1400 N
N Logan, UT 84341
2004 PhD Plant Biology; Michigan State University
1998 BS Crop Science; Utah State University
The objective of Dr. Cook’s research is to describe the chemical ecology of plant toxins within the three major CRISprojects. The research of the incumbent is focused on five principal genera of plants and their toxins: Delphinium(norditerpene alkaloids), Lupinus (quinolizidine and piperidine alkaloids), Astragalus and Oxytropis (swainsonine), and Pinus(isocupressic acid). The influences of environmental, developmental, and genetic processes on toxin concentrations, synthesis, and subsequent risk of poisoning will be determined. The relationship between locoweeds ( Astragalusand Oxytropisspp.) and a fungal endophyte responsible for the synthesis of the toxin swainsonine will be characterized.
The alkaloid profiles of L. sulphureuswere investigated throughout its geographical distribution using herbaria specimens and field collections. Seven distinct alkaloid profiles were characterized and it was shown that each is unique in its distribution.
The biogeographical distribution of two chemotypes of D. occidentale (Duncecap larkspur), one that contains the MSAL type alkaloids and one where the MSAL-type alkaloids are absent or very low, were defined using electrospray mass spectrometry.
A quantitative PCRmethod was developed to determine the amount of the endophyte, which is responsible for the synthesis of swainsonine, in a plant sample.