2024 research activities

Head Prof. Yuval Eshed

Picture of Prof. Yuval Eshed

Prof. Yuval Eshed

Office +972-8-934-3693


Plants offer the world its only renewable resource of foods, alternative energy and biotherapeutic compounds. Plants have highly sophisticated short and long-term adaptive mechanisms to the environment as a result of the simple fact that they cannot alter their location during environmental change. Basic understanding of how plants react to the environment and why they grow the way they do are central to devising a rational approach to address three important global challenges, namely to secure more and healthier food, to develop novel plant-based products associated with biotherapeutics and to produce alternative energy resources in the form of biofuels. Research activities in the Department of Plant Sciences are associated with all of the above-mentioned global challenges and range from studies on the function and regulation of isolated genes to their interactive behavior in the context of the whole plant. We have developed extensive in-house genomic, bioinformatics and transgenic infrastructure that enables us to isolate novel genes by gene trapping, knockout or map-based cloning. Cloned genes are manipulated and studied by transgenic analysis to establish their potential in the whole plant. Our research as listed below integrates methodologies of molecular biology, protein modeling, genomics, metabolomics, bioinformatics, system biology, genetics, biochemistry and physiology.
Harnessing light energy and energy transduction in the plant cell: Research is carried out on the basic biophysical phenomenon of photon absorption by chlorophyll through transduction of this energy to ATP and the regulation of energy flux by the plant redox state.
Adaptive response in the plant to the biotic and abiotic environment: Molecular mechanisms that drive the cellular response are investigated under environmental perturbation. Research is directed in understanding the elements that play a role in the recognition of pathogens and the subsequent mounting of plant defense responses as well as in the response of plants to abiotic stresses, such as salt stress.
Plant metabolism and growth: Research is centered around elucidating regulatory metabolic networks for production of essential primary and secondary metabolites as well as understanding gene expression and hormonal networks that control plant metabolism, growth, reproduction and productivity.
Plant genome organization: Molecular tools have been developed to examine the fluidity of the plant genome, as described by transposon element, and the evolution of polyploid plants.

ScientistsShow details

  • Picture of Prof. Asaph Aharoni

    Prof. Asaph Aharoni

    Genetic Regulation of Metabolic Pathways and its Co-ordination with Developmental and Stress Response Programs in Plant Biology
    The Primary-Secondary Metabolism Interface
    Regulation of Plant Surface Formation
    Regulation of Secondary Metabolism Associated Metabolic Pathways
    Plant and Yeast Metabolomics
    Riboswitches in Plants: Post Transcriptional Regulators of Metabolic Pathways

  • Picture of Prof. Marvin Edelman

    Prof. Marvin Edelman

    Duckweed biotechnology
    Collaboration with:  Barak Cohen, Ron Vunsh
    Volumetric growth of Wolffia
    Polyploidization of duckweeds for biomass increase and metabolic vigor
    Mutagenesis from photoautotrpphy to photoheterotrophy
    Transgenic duckweed for veterinary products
    Genomic analysis of calcium dependent protein kinases in duckweeds
  • Picture of Prof. Robert Fluhr

    Prof. Robert Fluhr

    Plant Response to Environmental Stress
    Reactive oxygen species in plant stress response
    Cellular REDOX state
    Gene expression networks in abiotic and biotic stress
    Oxylipins, singlet oxygen and lipidomics of the osmotic stress response in roots
    Singlet oxygen production in mutants, during photosynthesis and by natural photosensitizers and the resultant modification of RNA to yield translational arrest

  • Picture of Dr. Assaf Gal

    Dr. Assaf Gal

    Morphogenesis of biological materails
    Using cryo electron microscopy for in-cell analysis of mineral formation.
    The role of liquid-liquid phase separation in biological mineralization.
    Silica formation in diatoms, from intracellular condensation of silica to morphogenesis of the cell-wall structure.
    Mechanisms of calcium carbonate precipitation by coccolithophores.

  • Picture of Prof. Gad Galili

    Prof. Gad Galili

    Association of metabolism and cell biology with plant development and response to stress
    Collaboration with:  Zevulun Elazar, Aviah Zilberstein, Rachel Amir, Yoram Kapulnik, Alisaider Fernie
    Gene expression programs and metabolic networks associated with seed maturation and germination
    Metabolic engineering of high-lysine plants
    Genetic, genomic and bioinformatics approaches to elucidate metabolic networks in plants
    Regulatory interactions between primary and secondary metabolism of plants
    Cell biology and physiology of autophagy-associated processes in plants

  • Picture of Prof. Jonathan Gressel

    Prof. Jonathan Gressel

    Developing slow release herbicide formulations
    Collaboration with:  Michael Burnet
    Designing tandem constructs to mitigate gene flow from transgenic crops to weeds

  • Picture of Dr. Tamir Klein

    Dr. Tamir Klein

    Tree carbon metabolism
    Tree-Tree root carbon transfer
    Whole-tree carbon balance
    Tree-mycorrhiza interaction
    Starch metabolism in woody tissues
    Tree water transport
    Tree drought resistance
    Xylem recovery from embolism
    The role of aquaporins in woody tissues

  • Picture of Prof. Ron Milo

    Prof. Ron Milo

    Quantifying the Anthropocene
    Global mammalian biomass
    Global arthropod biomass
    Cell Biology by the Numbers
    Cellular turnover
    Design principles in energy and carbon fixation
    Synthetic autotrophy
    The C1 economy

  • Picture of Prof. Avigdor Scherz

    Prof. Avigdor Scherz

    Quantification of atoms, groups and molecules electronegati using metal substituted bacteriochlorophylls and application to chemical reactivity.
    Resolving the forces which drive membrane protein assembly.
    The mechenism behind generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) by illuminating novel bacteriochlorophyll derivatives and their application in photodynamic therapy (PDT) of tumors.

  • Picture of Prof. Assaf Vardi

    Prof. Assaf Vardi

    The ecological and evolutionary role of programmed cell death in single-celled marine photosynthetic microorganisms
    The role of infochemicals and their regulation of cell fate and cell-cell interactions in marine photosynthetic microorganisms
    Sensing Environmental Stress and Acclimation Strategies in Marine Algae
    Cell Signaling Pathways and their role in the Chemical “Arms Race” during Algal Host-Virus and Predator-Prey interactions