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Terence Seldon Kwafo

Profile picture for Terence Seldon Kwafo

Contact Information

1201 W Gregory Dr
Edward R. Madigan Laboratory, Room 197

Office Hours

Fall 2023, Tuesday 2-3 PM
Plant Biology Graduate Student -- Advisor: Justin McGrath
Graduate Teaching Assistant, Integrative Biology
President, Plant Biology Association of Graduate Students (PBAGS)

Research Interests

Plant and soil nutrient dynamics

Crop nutritional quality

Micro-nutrients and minerals

Global climate change and food security

Plant and Root Phenotyping 

Research Description

Aspects of crop quality such as protein concentration, amino acid composition, and the concentrations of mineral elements such as iron and zinc are essential for consumers. In food-insecure areas, many people consume inadequate amounts of iron and zinc; thus, concentrations of these minerals in food can impact human health. Furthermore, this present-day concern about food quality associated with hunger and malnutrition may be exacerbated by climate change. Specifically, crops grown in elevated atmospheric CO2 concentrations (elevated [CO2]) have decreased concentrations of nutrients critical to human health, including protein, iron, and zinc. Although it has been established that elevated [CO2] reduces nutritional content in some crops, the mechanisms by which it occurs are uncertain. Various hypotheses have been proposed to explain the phenomenon, but not all have strong support. My thesis project seeks to understand what causes these reductions in food quality and find ways to offset them so we can produce nutritious next-generation food crops. I will explore 1) understanding the relationship between transpiration and nutrient decline under elevated [CO2] in soybean, 2) investigating plant interaction with soil and soil health, and 3) assessing the feasibility of using hyperspectral imaging and regression models to predict soil nutrient concentrations. This research will increase our understanding of the role of transpiration in decreased nutrient concentrations in crops grown under elevated [CO2] and would improve our currently limited ability to predict responses for different crops and regions. The broader impact and long-term goal of this thesis will be to incorporate the knowledge of how transpiration influences crop quality and plant-soil interactions from the field experiments into a larger model framework accounting for other nutrient acquisition and distribution mechanisms. Additionally, combining the effects of these mechanisms in a mathematical model will allow me to test different hypotheses and identify specific physiological traits that could be used to guide breeding and agronomic strategies to adapt crops to higher [CO2].


B.S. Drew University

A.S. Union College

Awards and Honors

Rockey Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) Fellowship