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Institute of Agricultural Engineering
Institute of Animal Scienc
Gilat Research Center
Newe Ya'ar Research Center
Institute of Plant Protection
*Institute of Plant Science
Postharvest and Food Sciences
Institute of Soil, Water & Environmental Sciences
Institute of Plant Science

Institute of Plant Science - Central ARO Campus, Rishon Leziyon

Natural Resources 

  1. David Schwartz Rakefet e-mail Team: Leor Eshed-Williams from the faculty of agriculture
    Deciphering biological function of drought-related genes of Pinus halepensis through heterologous transformation system and genome editing.
    We have identified drought-related genes through a drought stress experiment in Pine trees. The function of many of these genes is unknown. We would like to decipher their biological function using heterologous transformation system as well as through genome editing by CRISPR-Cas9 system. These genes have a huge potential to serve in improving plant response to drought stress.
  2. Zaady Eliyahu e-mail Team: With Prof. Ronen Kadmon, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
    Grazing as a mechanism of competitive release in Mediterranean rangelands
    A post-doc and M.Sc. students that will assist in conducting the fieldwork and the laboratory analysis for the three systems., Establishment of a long-term, large-scale experiment for studying the effectiveness of domestic livestock grazing as a mechanism of competitive release in herbaceous rangelands. The experiment will be based on the conceptual framework described above, and will be designed to test the following questions: 1. To what extent does grazing offset species loss caused by competitive exclusion? 2. How do differences in habitat conditions, grazing regime, and soil properties influence the effectiveness of grazing as a releasing factor? 3. What are the mechanisms by which differences in habitat conditions and grazing regime affect the magnitude of competitive release by grazing? In particular, what is the relative contribution of differences in the magnitude of competitive release vs. differences in the effectiveness of grazing in determining the observed patterns of
  3. Zaady Eliyahu e-mail Team: Dr. Alexandra Chudnovsky - Tel Aviv University, Dr. Naftali Goldshager - Ariel University.
    Ecological quality assessment based on spectral-spatial-temporal (SST) monitoring from space.
    In this research we are establishing a method for ecological quality assessment which follows the same principles of habitat hectare and benchmark comparisons using satellite imagery , weekly climatic data (rainfall and temperatures), field measurements and ancillary environmental information. The research will be in cooperation with three labs – Tel Aviv University (TAU), Technion, Volcani Center and Ariel University in parallel.
  4. Zaady Eliyahu e-mail Team: Dr. Eugene Ungar - Agricultural Research Organization
    Spatial and temporal grazing pressure of Bedouins herds in forests effects on herbaceous biomass, diversity and reducing the risk of fires
    In accordance with the coordination with KKL-JNF South and the foresters, we will set up tracking devices for flocks in the area, which included the forests in the northern Negev Desert. Our objective is to map of the area where the flocks graze during the spring season, and to raise the GPS calls on GIS maps to visualize the presence of herds in space and the intensity of presence. We aim to calculate the habitat of each herd and the average grazing pressure for the whole area in order to explicit units of grazing days per dunam, and to create pressure maps of the herds on the pasture land. In addition, a growing survey will be conducted to examine the effect of grazing on flowering in the forests in order to promote tourism in the forest.
  5. Zaady Eliyahu e-mail Team:Prof. Yaron Ziv - Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
    Rehabilitation of microorganism communities in degraded soils by mining and over exploitation of agricultural land
    The aims of this research are to study the microbial composition and their activity by using enzymology methods, in degraded soils, for investigating the rehabilitation processesof these soils.
  6. Zaady Eliyahu e-mail Team:Prof. Ali Nejidat - Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
    The dynamics of the biocrust composition and the microbial communites in desert soils, saturated with acid and its effect on the soil surface properties
    The biological soil crusts [BSC] are the natural main cover of the surface in dry lands and are therefore environmental engineers in low-rainfall systems. They prevent erosion by the water and wind; enrich the soil with organic matter and nitrogen and form primary productive in arid regions. Anthropogenic disturbances such as those caused by the acidic water that flowed from the pool of the plant to the Ashalim stream greatly influence the population structure of the soil crusts that cover the natural areas at the bottom and slopes of the channel. These slopes are covered now with gypsum and foam coating that affected and changed the surface features and damaged all of life system supported by the BSCs. The purpose of the study will be to examine the dynamics of the structure of BSC composition and the microbial communities in soil saturated with acid and its effect on the surface properties of the soil.
  7. Zaady Eliyahu e-mail Team: Dr. Naftali Goldshlager - Ariel University
    Effect of livestock on soil and subsoil properties
    Herbivores play an important role in the cycling of nutrients through the soil-plant-animal system, and grazing management has a large effect on the spatial distribution of nutrients and the fertility of pasture soils. Sheep grazing in open spaces is based on night penning in seasonal corrals. A direct consequence of this traditional management is the gradual accumulation of excreted feces and urine in the corrals, locally increasing the content of organic matter and minerals in the soil, instead of being distributed in the range. Lack of planning and unawareness of the long-term effect of abandoned corrals is negatively affecting the landscape and grazing value of the forest soils. The aim of our research is to study the effects and time course of changes in levels of soil and subsoil properties in an abandoned sheep corrals in forested semi-arid regions in Southern part of Israel, in order to assess the time span required for the recovery of the initial and natural soil conditions.

Ornamental Plants and Agricultural Biotechnology

  1. Arazi Tzahi e-mail Team: Tzahi Arazi
    Role of miRNAs in fleshy fruit development and ripening
    MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are endogenous non-coding RNAs that negatively modulate the expression of genes by inhibiting translation or by promoting the degradation of target mRNAs, many of which encode transcription factors. Recent studies have indicated that miRNAs are master regulators of numerous developmental processes. However, although abundant in developing and ripening fleshy fruit their regulatory functions in this process are still poorly understood. The goal of this research project is to identify novel fruit miRNAs and elucidate their functions using tomato as a model crop plant and state of the art molecular biology techniques including CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing.
  2. Bocobza Samuel e-mail Team:Dr. Samuel Bocobza
    Genome editing and metabolic engineering of ornamental plants
    In this research, we will use the most advance genome editing technologies to improve the metabolic content of ornamental plants and improve their resistance to stresses. This study combines molecular biology approach with metabolomics to characterize plant-pathogen interactions.
  3. Rimon Ben e-mail Team: Prof. Rina Kamenetsky Goldstein , Dr. Nirit Bernstein
    Control of medicinal cannabis flowering: The effect of photoperiod on flower induction and initiation
    Medical cannabis is expected to become a major crop in Israel in the next few years. The active ingredients responsible for its medicinal properties are formed within its trichomes, which develop at high concentrations on the bracts of female flowers. Cannabis flowers in response to short-day photoperiod. The only way to induce its flowering (on long days) requires rather expensive agro-technical solutions, such as a light-deprivation system. The purpose of this study is to decipher the mechanism governing flower induction in medical cannabis. Identification of genetic elements controlling flowering time will allow their future manipulation, to control flowering time in medical cannabis.

Vegtables and Field Crops

  1. Friedman Eyal e-mail Team: Eyal Bdolach[PhD candidate]; Khaled Bishara, Shelly Lazar [MSc candidates]; Avital Tsofe [postdoc]; Inbar Aner [BsC]
    Phenomics and genome editing of adaptive variation in crop plants and wild relatives
    We study the adaptive value of naturally occurring DNA variation in wild and interspecific plant population. What are the principles that govern rate limiting pathways, and how circadian clock plasticity could contribute to adaptation and crop improvement. We make use of state-of-the-art phenomics tools as high-throughput non-invasive clock measurements, combined with field phenotype under abiotic stresses. Machine learning tools are utilized to develop algorithms for connecting between such tools to breeding values of cultivars. Genome editing tools are integrated to allow induced recombination for QTL mapping, with the perspective of engineering and breeding crops better suitable to high temperature and drought.
  2. Ginzberg Idit e-mail Team:Uri Yermiyahu and Asher Bar-Tal
    Skin blemishes in potato tubers – studies on cellular mechanism of skin formation and field practices to reduce waste and increase yield
    The protective peel of potato tuber is made of periderm tissue, whose outmost cell layers contain corky cell walls and is named 'skin'. The skin protects the crop form water loss and pathogen invasion, and its appearance is a highly important marketable factor. Skin physiological blemishes (that are not caused by pathogens) are of great concern, mainly russeting phenomenon and skinning injuries. The potato periderm is a model tissue to study cork development and wound-healing in planta. It originates from meristematic cells, named phellogen, whose activity was not characterized yet. Research goal is to study periderm/skin development by (1) characterization of the cellular mechanism of skin formation, (2) molecular, anatomical and chemical monitoring of developing skin, (3) field sampling of affected tubers, (4) conducting of field trials to reduce waste and increase marketable crop.
  3. Ginzberg Idit e-mail Team:Rafi Stern
    Strengthening fruit peel resistance to growth strain
    Cracking of fruit peel, and the closely-related russeting condition, are major disorders that limit fruit quality, shelf-life and marketability, and result from a failure of the peel to resist surface tensions due to fruit expansion. Simply, the peel is made of epidermal cells and the overlying cuticular matrix, with the occurrence of fruit cracking first visible at the cuticle surface. Spraying of gibberellin A4 plus A7 (GA4+7) and the cytokinin 6-benzyl adenine (BA) at the early cell division stage in apple fruit development resulted in a reduced incidence of cracking, and this was accompanied by increased cuticle thickness and higher epidermal cell density, phenotypes often presumed to confer cracking resistance. The proposed research aims to elucidate the cellular factors that determine fruit peel resistance to cracking using anatomical studies and molecular approaches (transcriptome analysis, qPCR, etc.)
  4. Kleiman Maya e-mail Team:Sigal Brown-Miyara (Plant protection, ARO) , Anjali Iyer-Pascuzzi (Purdue University)
    Biomimetic as a tool to study the influence of root microstructure on root-environment interaction
    When a plant interacts with microorganisms, the microorganisms sense different chemical and molecular signals coming from the plant, but one ignored signal is the topography - the microstructural features of the plant. Studying the effect of this signal in the biological system is challenging as the biological system is very noisy. Hence, we use biomimetic - using chemistry and material sciences to mimic biological systems - to replicate the biological structures in a synthetic, inert system. We study the unexplored microstructural features of the root system and see how they affect the tomato plant interaction with several soil pathogens, both bacteria and nematodes. We use various methods to tackle this fundamental biological question from different angles: microscopic tools to study the microstructures in both natural and synthetic systems, chemistry and material sciences techniques to form and characterize our synthetic mimics, biological tools to study the interaction of the micr
  5. Kleiman Maya e-mail Team:Dr. Anat Izhaki , Dr. Tamir Kamai
    3D platform for tissue culture
    Regeneration is a bottle neck in gene editing processes. While many factors regarding hormone and nutrient concentration are being examined in order to improve the efficiency of regeneration, one ignored factor is the structure of the platform on which the cells are being grown. Specifically, the cells are grown on a 2D agar plate, while plants are 3D organisms that sense cues from all three dimensions. The change in dimensionality of the platform has proven to be of significance in mammalian tissue cultures, specifically in tissue engineering - the mammalian sibling of plant regeneration. Cells are better differentiate and are more equipped to form new tissues in a 3D platform. In this research we are using all the knowledge gained in the field of mammalian tissue engineering to improve the regeneration process in plants. This is a highly multidisciplinary, cutting edge research. If you have background in biology/chemistry/material sciences and are open minded and eager to learn, come
  6. Lieberman-Lazarovich Michal e-mail Team:Dr. Golan Miller, Dr. Fengde Wang
    Genetics and epigenetics of heat tolerance in tomato (Solanum lycopersicum)
    We are a young and enthusiastic group fascinated by the way plants respond to their environment and cope with environmental challenges. Specifically, we aim at understanding the molecular factors governing the response of tomato plants to increased temperatures, in order to facilitate the development of heat-resistant tomato cultivars. We take complimentary approaches with studies that go from the lab to the field (and back), using physiological assays, genetic and genomic tools, epigenetic marks and epi/genetic editing. We welcome those who are passionate about science to come and join us!
Updated on: 08/03/18 10:12
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