Plants need to assimilate CO2 for photosynthesis and, at the same time, prevent excessive loss of water. Therefore, land plants have developed stomata, which regulate the exchange of gases between the atmosphere and the interior of the leaf. Each stomatal pore is mediated by two guard cells that increase and decrease in size, thereby controlling the rate of transpiration and the diffusion of CO2. Over 95% of plant water is lost through stomatal pores. For this reason, the opening and closing of the stomata are tightly regulated by physiological and environmental factors.
Our world is going through dramatic climate change, which forecasts water scarcity, elevated world temperatures, extreme colds, and a dramatic increase in atmospheric CO2. Stomatal conductance is mediated by these environmental factors which dramatically affect crop plant physiology, viability, growth, productivity, and eventually yield.
In our lab, we use physiological, biochemical histological, and molecular tools to study the different aspects of climate change on plant transpiration regulation. Our research focuses, on exploring mechanisms and pathways that involve in stomatal conductance regulation in response to CO2, drought, and cold stress. We combine applicative and basic science to advance knowledge and provide practices for agricultural problems.
CO2 Stomatal conductance regulation
Stomatal pores are responsible for plant water loss. CO2 levels in leaves are determined by respiration, photosynthesis, stomatal conductance and atmospheric [CO2]. Low concentrations of CO2 cause stomatal opening, whereas elevated CO2 concentrations trigger stomatal closure. It has been suggested that plant hormones involve in stomatal conductance regulation. Our aim is to detect plant hormones that are involved in CO2 induce stomatal movement. We study this complex mechanism using reverse genetics, physiological, metabolomics, and biochemical approaches.
Chilling damage in mango trees
Mango is one of the world's most important fruit trees. The crop stands at about 46 million tons (FAOstat, 2016) and is second only to banana among the tropical and subtropical fruits. Much research has been done on climate change and its effects on various crops in agriculture. Many forecasts indicate an increase in the frequency and extremes of cold events, and, as a result, exacerbation of weather damage in agriculture. Tropical and subtropical plants are particularly sensitive to cold, with mango being one of the most sensitive ones among subtropical fruit trees grown in the Mediterranean (citrus, avocado, lychee).
Minimum temperature vulnerabilities are divided into three types: a) Frost b) Daily colds and c) "Night-cold-day-light" which are the most common cold stress in the temperate mango growing areas. "Night-cold-day-light" are chill or cold stress, where the temperature drops at night, followed by a warm, bright day.
In light of the damage that "night-cold-day-light" stress causes in the mango industry and the lack of an effective and cost-effective solution, there is a need to develop an applied treatment to reduce the cold-stress damage. In our lab, we combine physiological and molecular analysis to study the "Night-cold-day-light" stress in Mango. Our study combines basic and applied research with the aim to develop treatments for cold stress injury.
Almond trees in the face of climate change
A basic and applicative study aims to incorporate beneficial traits from native almond spices to cope with various effects of climate change
The world population is estimated to reach 9.5 billion by the year 2050 and increase the demand for food. Yet, with climate change, increasing global temperatures and scarcity of water, agricultural food production is limited, which calls for a better fit and improved cultivars for future farming.
Climate change forecasts water scarcity and elevated world temperatures. These two environmental factors dramatically affect almond productivity and yield. Furthermore, effective use of water, for maximizing 'crop per drop' is essential in all agricultural fields, and in particular, with the shift of almond-orchards areas to drier and warmer regions. Hence, almond production is challenged by the climate conditions around the world and in Israeli farms.
In a fruitful collaboration with Dr. Doron Holland (Newe-Yaar research center, ARO, Israel), Dr. Nir Sade (Tel-Aviv University, Israel), and Dr. Or Sperling (Gilat research center, ARO, Israel) we use physiological, histological, genetic and metabolic approaches to study different traits in the native almond cultivar and explore the possibility of their usage in commercial cultivars to increase yield and water use efficiency under warmer climates.