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Exploring the Biology and Phenology of the Invasive Weed Parthenium hysterophorus

In recent years, there has been increasing concern about the spread of the invasive weed Parthenium hysterophorus in agricultural and non-agricultural habitats across Israel. With no control, P. hysterophorus can cause up to 97% yield reduction. Here, we investigate the biology and phenology of this weed and examine the effectiveness of various selective and non-selective herbicides aimed to improve  P. hysterophorus control.

Project led by : Sahar Malka

In collaboration with: Dr. Ran Lati and Professor Hanan Eizenberg


Risk assessment and development of a regional system for the management of Ricinus communis, an infestation source for Thaumatotibia leucotreta

Ricinus communis is a perennial invasive woody shrub that have invaded Israel over a hundred years ago. R. communis invade non-native habitats with frequent or intense disturbance regimes. Thus, changes in a-biotic conditions favors R. communis germination and may induce its competitive abilities over native plant species. Recently, this species gained renowned attention since it was identified as a secondary host for the quarantine pest false codling moth Thaumatotibia leucotreta. T. leucotreta poses a severe threat to agricultural tree crops and growers monitor and treat it routinely. This study aims to investigate the distribution of R. communis and ways to mitigate T. leucotreta damage.

Project led by : Netta Salomon

In collaboration with: Dr. Asaf Sade, Dr. Avi Bar Masada

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Studying the phenology, biology and herbicide response of the invasive weed Solanum rostratum

Solanum rostratum is an invasive weed species that invaded Israel in the 1950's. The weed appears in several germination flashes, from early spring until late summer. Recently, an increase in its distribution range was observed, alongside identification of new populations in the northern part of Israel. This study aimed to investigate the biology, phenology and efficacy of herbicide application for the control of S. rostratum.

Project led by : Jackline Abu-Nassar

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Investigating greenhouse gases emissions in plant invasion hotspots as a model for aquatic ecosystem restoration and management

Increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHGs: CO2, CH4 and N2O) are causing global climate change and decreasing the stability of many natural ecosystems. Furthermore, terrestrial aquatic ecosystems have been identified as significant sources of atmospheric CH4 and N2O especially those adjacent to urban and agricultural landscapes. Riparian buffer strips, representing the interface zone between terrestrial and aquatic ecosystem, play a critical role in mitigating greenhouse gases emissions from freshwater ecosystems. Here, we propose a multidisciplinary experimental approach integrating specific plant-microbe interactions and GHGs emissions by native and invasive plants. 

Project led by : Michael Ruggill

In collaboration with: Dr. Keren Yanuka-Golub

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Can weed species adapt to climate change and agricultural practice via transgenerational phenotypic plasticity?

Weeds are organisms capable of quickly adapting to new, challenging environments using generalist strategies to survival. In a world threatened by climate change, it is expected that weeds will have a competitive advantage over other crop species and yield losses will be even greater in the future.  Generating knowledge on how weeds evolve stress tolerance will be important and applicable not only to plant science, but also to evolutionary biology in general. Weeds can be source of adaptive alleles that could be harnessed to increase the resilience of agricultural crops to climate change.


Project led by: Lior Kesselman

In collaboration with: Dr. Caio Brunharo, Dr. Eric Paterson, Dr. Lidor Shaar-moshe


Soil microbiome and parasitic weeds

Holoparastic weeds such as broomrape (Orobanche and Phelipanche spp.) are considered highly noxious weeds that may cause severe damage and high yield losses in many fields and vegetable crops worldwide. These parasitic weeds have acquired all nutrients and water from their host through a root connection. However, germination of these species can only occur when specific root exudates are released from the parasite-host root. Strigolactones are a class of terpenoid lactones that were initially characterized as root-derived signals that induce the germination of parasitic plants. Strigolactones were also shown to have an important function as an inducing factor for the growth of mycorrhiza fungus and other soil microorganisms. In our study, we investigate the triangle relationships between the host plant, soil microbiome, and the parasitic weed.

Project led by : Amit Wallach

In collaboration with: Professor Assaf Distelfeld and Professor Hanan Eizenberg

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