Welcome to the Michaeli lab
cell biology, biochemistry, and physiology of
plant senescence and ripening
We boldly go where no plant has gone before!
The Michaeli lab is part of the Institute of Postharvest and Food Sciences @Volcani Institute (Agricultural Research Organization), which is situated at the heart of Israel, at the north tip of Rishon LeZion (only 15 minutes drive from Tel-Aviv).
Our hope to delay aging goes back to the dawn of humanity. Plants, especially trees, are masters of extended lifespan, some reaching hundreds and even thousands of years.
Understanding plant aging is critical for our environment, agriculture and food security.
Senescence and Ripening of Plant Produce for Increased Food Security
One of the current grand challenges of humanity is to maintain global food security for an ever-growing population, while global temperatures are rising. On one hand, scientists try to find ways to increase crops yield. However, this is only part of the equation. The other important aspect is the prevention of food loss, which may be achieved by delaying plant produce postharvest senescence and regulating fruit ripening.
Leaf Senescence and Fruit Ripening Regulation by Cellular Degradation Pathways
Biosynthesis (of metabolites, macro-molecules, cellular organelles, etc) is essential for all life forms on earth. In parallel, degradation mechanisms must ensure the dismantling and recycling of these substances for proper cellular homeostasis (energetic balance). When this balance is interrupted, senescence, aging, disease, and eventually death occur. Plants (and other eukaryotes) possess several cellular degradation pathways. Two of these include autophagy and the ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS). These pathways exhibit a major role in lifespan modulation. For instance, autophagy deficiency results in earlier plant senescence, whereas constitutive autophagy prolongs lifespan.
We will identify molecular mechanisms that govern fruit ripening and leaf senescence, and harness our knowledge to increase plant produce lifespan (shelf life).
Molecular Biology, Leaf and Fruit Physiology analysis, Biochemistry, Genetics (including gene editing), Proteomics and Live Microscopy Imaging.
Our Experimental subjects:
Arabidopsis (model organism), Rocket leaves (crop), Tomato (crop and model) and Banana fruit (crop).
Simon Michaeli, Ph.D.
I obtained my master and Ph.D. in the lab of late Prof. Hillel Fromm (Tel-Aviv University) where I studied the cross-membrane transport of the stress-related molecule, GABA in Arabidopsis. I then joined the lab of Prof. Gad Galili (Weizmann Institute) as a postdoc fellow, where we identified selective-autophagy of chloroplast proteins during leaf senescence. To further investigate how viruses evolved to subvert autophagy, I then moved to France (CNRS Montpellier and Strasbourg) where I worked in Prof. Pascal Genschik`s lab. Later, I came back to the Weizmann Institute where I was involved in developing methods for advanced live microscopy imaging of plants and phytoplankton. Today, I`m a researcher at the Postharvest Department of the Volcani Institute, trying to solve some unknown mysteries of plant senescence and fruit ripening with the rest of the gang you see below.
Girishkumar Kumaran, Ph.D.
Girish completed his Ph.D. at Ariel University where he worked on the structure of the mouse kidney and mapping the localization of epithelial sodium channels. Currently, Girish is interested in the role autophagy plays in fruits, focusing on tomatoes.