Prof. Ziv Reich
- Microbial population dynamics under stress
Population heterogeneity plays an important role in evolution, adaptation and survival under stress. But where does population heterogeny come from? We study the relationship between environmental dynamics and its history and microbial population variability, the role of deterministic and stochastic processes in survivability and the ability of communities to use adaptations to develop novel solutions. Our lab utilises techniques such as microfluidics, CRISPR, genetic barcoding, fluorescence and automated microscopy to study these basic questions in the evolution of communities, using yeast as a model.
- Understanding drought resistance and engineering drought-resistant nutritious plants
Water shortages are becoming one of the greatest threats facing humanity in almost every inhabited region. This necessitates the development of strategies to grow nutritious cultivars under drought conditions. As part of this effort, we study the strategies employed by naturally desiccation-tolerant plants, called resurrection plants, to withstand an almost complete loss (~95%) of water and revive upon irrigation. We are especially interested in their ability to switch their developmental state in response to external and internal cues. Our ultimate goal is to apply the insights gained to engineer drought-resistant crops. In a complementary project, centered on highly nutritious but toxic drought-tolerant plants, we utilise CRISPR/Cas9 technology to remove the toxins, in order to develop a new paradigm for producing safe food resources for drought-ridden regions.
- The plant microbiome and its dynamics
Plants have millions of microorganisms living inside and around them: bacteria, viruses, and fungi. These microorganisms play important roles in plant productivity and health, yet, these microbial communities and their interactions are poorly investigated. Understanding the diversity, composition, and functions of the microbiomes along the soil–plant continuum will allow us to leverage plant microbiomes for the development of sustainable agriculture. Our studies aim (1) to provide an overview of the diversity and composition of soil and plant microbiomes; (2) to explore the mechanisms of microbiome assembly and network patterns under different environmental conditions; (3) to identify keystone taxa that are associated with the plant microbiome.