Plant Genomics, Evolution, and Biotechnology

The research program at the IOE is focused on biodiversity, genetics and genomics of wild progenitors of domesticated cereals (mostly wheat and barley). The IoE studies aim to identify the genetic basis of plant domestication and adaptation to biotic and abiotic stresses. The research approaches include genetic and physical mapping, positional cloning and characterization of sequence diversity and evolutionary history under natural and domestication conditions of genomes and specific corresponding genes. The IOE researchers benefit from the rich wild cereal natural population that grow in the region, some of them (e.g. wild wheat and wild barley) at the center of origin and diversity of the species in the upper part of the Jordan Valley. Therefore, IOE holds one of the world largest wild cereal gene banks, which harbors more than 18,000 accessions routinely exploited in research and breeding programs. The IOE researchers are involved and lead international programs aimed at improving wheat genetic and genomic resources such as the International Wheat Genome Sequencing Consortium (IWGSC), the Wild Emmer Wheat Genome Sequencing Consortium (WEWseq), the 10+ Wheat Genome Project (PanGenome), the Wheat Initiative Expert Working Group on Durum Wheat Genomics and Breeding (DWG) and the Israel Plant Gene bank (IGB).