Institute of Evolution

The Institute of Evolution (IoE)

Established in the University of Haifa at 1977 by prof. Eviatar Nevo, includes 12 faculty members (members of the Department of Evolutionary and Environmental Biology) and more than 20 affiliated scientists with PhD degrees.

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The Institute of Evolution (IOE) at the University of Haifa is unique in its broad and interdisciplinary research with particular expertise in population and evolutionary genetics, developmental evolution, behavioral evolution, bioinformatics and ecology. The IOE is situated on Mount Carmel at the heart of the Carmel national park, next to one of most beautiful cities around the Mediterranean, we are in prefect location to study biodiversity and evolution. We are abundant with in house and outdoor facilities providing for modern, cutting edge science. Together with the Department of Evolutionary and Environmental Biology based in our campus, we are a center of excellence in the field of ecology and evolution in the north of Israel.

Institute News

Congratulations to Prof. Sagi Snir for coauthoring an important paper that has just been published in Nature Ecology and Evolution

Newsletter of University of Haifa Research Authority about us (Hebrew)

Catсhing Blind Mole Rats by Dr. Imad Shams in the Upper Galilee

Imad Video.mp4

Credit: Dr. Grace Smarsh

Scientific Seminars

The presented lectures deal mainly with the hot topics in evolutionary biology, molecular genetics, genomics, and ecology. The seminars are delivered by expert lecturers and distinguished visitors in a relaxed environment.

At this point, the seminars will be held online on Mondays at 12 pm

Next seminar:

23.05.22, Safdie Auditorium, Multi-purpose building

Sagol Department of Neurobiology,

University of Haifa

A biophysical mechanism for epigenetic inheritance of enhanced complex learning capabilities


Acquisition of the ability to learn complex tasks, termed 'rule learning', is mediated by enhanced intrinsic neuronal excitability throughout the neuronal population in the relevant brain areas, which results from decreased conductance of slow potassium current(s).

Here we show that rats trained in complex tasks pass on trans-generationally superb learning capabilities. Such inheritance is also evident when only one of the parents (male or female) is trained, if the F1 generation is fostered by non-trained females and if the F2 or F3 generation is trained without any training of the F1 generation. Notably, offspring excel also in other, completely novel tasks.

At the cellular level, the biophysical properties of CA1 pyramidal neurons of trained rats’ offspring differ significantly from neurons of controls’ offspring. Their excitability is higher, as result of reduction in the slow potassium current(s), the very same change induced in the brains of the F0 rats only after they acquire the rule.

Thus, offspring excel in complex learning tasks since they are born with neurons that show the same biophysical change induced in parents' brains by training for rule learning.

Analysis of mRNA expression levels show that the hippocampi of trained offspring differs from the controls' offspring hippocampi in more than 500 genes. In particular, we found downregulation of genes that code for channels that suppress intrinsic excitability, and of

genes that code for synaptic receptors.

We suggest that these changes create favourable set point for future increased plasticity, thereby granting trained rats' offspring superb learning capabilities