The Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research
In the last 10 years, my research focus has been the desert truffle Terfezia boudieri that forms mycorrhizal association with its host plant Helianthemum sessiliflorum. I am studying the fungus at several levels including physiology, ecology and molecular biology. I participate in a comprehensive project to sequence the entire genomes of 23 fungi including our two desert truffle species, in the frame of The European Community Sequencing Program entitled "Exploring the Genome Diversity of Mycorrhizal Fungi to Understand the Evolution and Functioning of Symbiosis in Woody Shrubs and Trees"
I also study secondary metabolite biosynthesis in plants, with emphasis on aroma volatiles biosynthesis. This is carried mainly in fruits at both the biochemical and molecular levels. We use tomato as a model system to identify genes and important traits. Metabolic engineering offers a solution for improving the taste and aroma of tomato.