Director of the French Associates Institute for Agriculture and Biotechnology of Drylands



French Associates Institute for Agriculture and Biotechnology of Drylands

Jacob Blaustein Institute for Desert Research

BGU, Sede-Boqer Campus, 84990, Israel

Tel:  972-8-6563435



Academic Status:

Associate Professor


Research activities:

The main focus of my research is whole plant ecophysiology and acclimation to abiotic stress


Present Academic Activities

1.   Role of dew in desert plants

2.   Role of root orders in the water and nutrient uptake.

3.   Carbon and water relations associated with rain and temperature gradients.

4.   Ecophysiology of halophyte plants and their use in constructed wetlands.

5.   Re-introduction and physiology of historically and biblical agro-beneficial plants.

6.   The role of pesticides as growth regulators.

7.   Multidisciplinary study on grapevines including plant physiology, metabolic profiling, and




1999-2003    Ph.D. Hebrew University, Plant Sciences.

1997-1998    M.Sc. Hebrew University, Plant Sciences.

1993-1996    B.Sc. Hebrew University, Biology


Research students

2008-2009-Eitan Amiel, M.Sc student

2008-Ina Meier, Post Doctoral scholar

2009-2012 Dr. Boris Rewald, Post-doctoral fellow

2009-2010 Avital Yosef, M.Sc student

2009-2010, Uri Huchberg, M.Sc student

2009-2013, Amir Eppel, Ph.D. student

2009-2013, Oren Shelef, Ph.D. student

2010-2011, Amber Hill, M.Sc student

2011-2013, Tal Rappaport, M.Sc. student

2011-2012, Dr. Volkan Oral, Post-doctoral fellow

2012-2013, Dr. Sikander Pal, Post-doctoral fellow

2011-2013, Jiangsan Zhao, M.Sc. student

2010-present, Uri Hochberg, Ph.D. student

2011-present, Sivan Isaacson, Ph.D. student

2013-present, Tal Rappaport, Ph.D. student

2013- present, Moti Shomron, Ph.D. student

2013- present, Itay Hacohen, Ph.D. student        

2013- present, Amonon Cochavi, Ph.D. student

2013- present, Brian Hoefgen, M.Sc. student

2013- present: Chunoing Miao, M.Sc. student

2013- present: Hila Gil, M.Sc. student

2014-present: Moses Kwame Aidoo, Ph.D student

2014-present: Mengqi Zhang, M.Sc. student

2014-present: Asal Kattel, M.Sc. student

2014-present: Jhon Okoth, Ph.D


Scientific Publications

(a)        Book chapters

  1. Lieman-Hurwitz J,  Asipov L, Rachmilevitch S, Marcus Y, and Kaplan A (2005), Expression of cyanobacterial ictB in higher plants enhanced photosynthesis and growth. Plant responses to air pollution and global change. Springer, New York, USA. Link
  2. Rachmilevitch S, DaCosta M, and Huang B 2006. Physiological and Biochemical Indicators for Stress Tolerance, in Plant environment interactions. Editor Bingru Huang. CRC Press, New York, USA. Link
  3. 3.  Rewald B, Eppel A, Shelef O, Hill A, Degu A, Friedjung A and Rachmilevitch S (2011), Life at the dry edge – Plants adaptations to hot deserts, in Life at Extremes: Environments, Organisms and Strategies for Survival, editor Elanor M. Bell. CAB International, UK. Link
  4. Rewald B, Shelef O, Ephrath JE and Rachmilevitch S (2013) Adaptive plasticity of salt-stressed root systems. In: Ahmad, P., Azooz, M.M. & Prasad, M.N.V. (Eds.) Ecophysiology and responses of plants under salt stress. Springer, New York, USA. Link


(b)        Scientific journals

  1. Rachmilevitch S, Reuveni J, Pearcy R and Gale J (1999) A high level of oxygen, as occurred toward the end of the Cretaceous period, increases leaf diffusion conductance. Journal of Experimental Botany 50 (335): 869-872.2.
  2. Gale J, Rachmilevitch S, Reuveni J and Volokita M (2001) The high oxygen atmosphere toward the end-Cretaceous; a possible contributing factor to the K/T boundary extinctions and to the emergence of C4 species. Journal of Experimental Botany 52 (357): 801-809.
  3. Mittler R, Merquiol E, Hallak-Herr E, Rachmilevitch S, Kaplan A and Cohen M (2001)  Living under a “dormant" canopy: a molecular acclimation mechanism of the desert plant Retama raetam. Plant Journal 25 (4): 407-416.
  4. Rizhsky L, Hallak-Herr E, Van Breusegem F, Rachmilevitch S, Barr J, Rodermel S, Inze D and Mittler R (2002) Double antisense plants lacking ascorbate peroxidase and catalase are less sensitive to oxidative stress than single antisense plants lacking ascorbate peroxidase or catalase. Plant Journal 32 (3): 329-342.
  5. Merquiol E, Pneuli L, Cohen M, Simovitch M, Rachmilevitch S, Goloubinoff P, Kaplan A and Mittler R (2002) Seasonal and diurnal variations in gene expression in the desert legume Retama raetam. Plant Cell and Environment 25 (12): 1627-1638.
  6. Angert A, Rachmilevitch S, Barkan E and Luz B (2003) Effects of photorespiration, the cytochrome pathway, and the alternative pathway on the triple isotopic composition of atmospheric O2. Global Biogeochemical cycles 17 (1): 1030-1044.
  7. Lieman-Hurwitz J, Rachmilevitch S, Mittler R, Marcus Y and Kaplan A (2003) Enhanced photosynthesis and growth of transgenic Arabidopsis and tobacco plants that express a gene involved in HCO3- accumulation in cyanobacteria. Plant Biotechnology Journal 1: 43-50.
  8. Rachmilevitch S, Cousins A and Bloom A (2004) Nitrate assimilation in plant shoots depends on photorespiration. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 101 (31): 11506-11510.
  9. Levy M, Rachmilevitch S and Abel S (2005) Transient Agrobacterium-mediated gene expression in the Arabidopsis hydroponics root system for subcellular localization studies. Plant Molecular Biology Reporter 3 (2): 1-6.
  10. Govrin E, Rachmilevitch S, Tiwari B, Solomon M and Levine A (2006) An elicitor from Botrytis cinerea Induces the hypersensitive response in Arabidopsis thaliana and other plants and promotes the gray mold disease. Phytopathology 96 (3): 299-307.
  11. Rachmilevitch S, Lambers H and Huang B (2006) Root respiratory characteristics associated with pant adaptation to high soil temperature for geothermal and turf-type Agrostis species. Journal of Experimental Botany 57 (3): 623-631.
  12. Rachmilevitch S, Huang B and Lambers H (2006) Assimilation and allocation of carbon and nitrogen of thermal and non-thermal Agrostis species in response to high soil temperature. New Phytologist 70 (3): 479-490.
  13. Rachmilevitch S, Xu Y, Gonzalez-Meler M, Huang B and Lambers H (2007) Cytochrome and alternative pathway activity in roots of thermal and non-thermal Agrostis species in response to high soil temperature. Physiologia Plantarum 129: 163-174.(IF 3.138 JR 35/200, Plant Sciences; Citations 29, Q1).
  14. Rachmilevitch S, Lambers H and Huang B (2008) Short-term and long-term root respiratory acclimation to elevated temperatures associated with root thermotolerance for two Agrostis grass species. Journal of Experimental Botany 59 (14): 3803-3809.
  15. Tencer Y, Idan G, Strom M, Nusinow U, Banet D, Cohen E, Schröder P, Shelef O, Rachmilevitch S, Soares I, Gross A and Golan-Goldhirsh A (2009) Establishment of a constructed wetland in extreme dryland. Environmental Science and Pollution Research. 16 (7): 862-875.
  16. Damari-Weissler H, Rachamilevitch S, Aloni R, German M, Cohen S, Zwieniecki M, Holbrook N and Granot D (2009)  LeFRK2 is required for phloem and xylem differentiation and the transport of both sugar and water. Planta 230 (4): 795-805.(IF 3.263 JR 33/200, Plant Sciences; Citations 5, Q1).
  17. Shelef O, Lazarovitch N, Rewald B, Golan-Goldhirsh A and Rachmilevitch S (2010) Root halotropism? salinity effects on Bassia indica Roots. Plant Biosystems 144 (2): 471-478.
  18. Gendler T, Gutterman Y and Rachmilevitch S (2010) Survival of Schismus arabicus seedlings exposed to desiccation depends on annual periodicity. Planta 231: 1475-1482.
  19. Rewald B, Rachmilevitch S and Ephrath, Y (2011) Salt stress effects on root systems of two mature olive cultivars. Acta Horticolturae 888: 109-128. (Citations 4).
  20. Rewald B, Ephrath Y and Rachmilevitch S (2011) A root is a root is a root? Water uptake rates of root orders. Plant Cell and Environment 34: 33-42.
  21. Rewald B, Rachmilevitch S, McCue M and Ephrath, J. PI (2011) Influence of saline drip-irrigation on fine root and sap-flow densities of two mature olive varieties. Environmental and Experimental Botany: 72: 107–114.
  22. Shelef O, Golan-Goldhirsh A and Rachmilevitch S (2012) Physiological parameters of plants as indicators of water quality in a constructed wetland. Environmental Science and Pollution Research 18:1234–1242.
  23. Bloom A, Rubio J, Randeall L, Rachmilevitch S, Cousins ABC and Carlisle EAPD (2012) CO2 enrichment inhibits shoot nitrate assimilation in C3 but not C4 plants and slows growth under nitrate in C3 plants. Ecology  93(2):355-67.
  24. Huang B, Rachmilevitch S and Jichen X (2012) Root carbon and protein metabolism associated with heat tolerance. Journal of Experimental Botany 63(9):3455-65.
  25. Rewald B, Gendler T, Raveh E, Ephrath J and Rachmilevitch S (2012) Phenotypic plasticity and salt accumulation among root orders of salt-stressed Citrus trees. Journal of Experimental Botany 63: 2717-2727.
  26. Rewald B, Meinen C, Trockenbrodt M, Ephrath J and Rachmilevitch S (2012) Root taxa identification in plant mixtures – Current techniques and future challenges. Plant and Soil 359: 165-182.
  27. Amiel E, Ofir R, Dudai N, Soloway E, Rabinsky T and Rachmilevitch S (2012) β – Caryophyllene, a compound isolated from the biblical balm of Gilead (Commiphora gileadensis) is a selective apoptosis inducer for tumor cell lines. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Article ID 872394, 8 pages, doi:10.1155/2012/872394.
  28. Shelef O, Gross A and Rachmilevitch S (2012) The use of Bassia indica for salt phytoremediation in constructed wetlands. Water Research 46(13): 3967-3976.
  29. Hochberg U, Degu A, Fait A and Rachmilevitch S (2012) Near isohydric grapevine cultivar displays higher photosynthetic efficiency and photorespiration rates under drought stress as compared with near anisohydric grapevine cultivar. Physiologia Plantarum 147: 443–452.
  30. Eppel A, Keren N, Salomon E, Volis S and Rachmilevitch S (2013) The response of Hordeum spontaneum desert ecotype to drought and excessive light intensity is characterized by induction of O2 dependent photochemical activity and anthocyanin accumulation. Plant Science 201: 74-80.
  31. Pongrac P, Vogel-Mikuš K, Regvar M, Kaligarič M, Vavpetič P, Kelemen M, Grlj N, Shelef O, Rachmilevitch S and Pelicon P (2013) On the distribution and evaluation of Na, Mg and Cl in leaves of selected halophytes. Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research Section B, Beam Interactions with materials and Atoms 306: 144–149.
  32. Shelef O, Gross A and Rachmilevitch S (2013) Role of plants in a constructed wetland: current and new perspectives. Water 5(2):405-419.
  33. Meier I, Angert  A, Falik O, Shelef O and Rachmilevitch S (2013) Increased root oxygen uptake in pea plants discriminating against non-self neighbors. Planta 238: 577-586.
  34. Hill A, Rewald B and Rachmilevitch S (2013) Belowground dynamics in two olive varieties as affected by saline irrigation. Scientia Horticulturae 162: 313-319.
  35. Shelef O, Helman Y, Behar A, Friedman A and Rachmilevitch S (2013) Tri-Party Underground Symbiosis between a Weevil, Bacteria and a Desert Plant. PLOS One 8(11) e76588.
  36. Yosef-Friedjung A, Choudhary S, Dudai N and Rachmilevitch S (2013) Physiological conjunction of allelochemicals and desert plants PLOS One. 8)12) e81580.
  37. Hochberg U, Degu A, Toubiana D, Gendler T, Nikoloski Z, Rachmilevitch S and Fait A (2013) Metabolite profiling and network analysis reveals coordinated changes in grapevine water stress response. BMC Plant Biology 13(1): 184-189.
  38. Eppel A, Shaked R, Eshel G, Barak S and Rachmilevitch S (2014) Low induction of non-photochemical quenching and high photochemical efficiency in the annual desert plant Anastatica hierochuntica. Physiologia Plantarum 151(4) 544-558.
  39. Hochberg U, Degu A, Rachmilevitch S, Cramer G, Fait A (2016) Grapevine in the face of climate change: the effects of water deficit on whole plant physiology, molecular processes and grape berry quality. Acta Horticulturae (accepted).
  40. Rappaport T, Hochberg U, Rachmilevitch S, Karnieli A (2014) The Effect of Differential Growth Rates across Plants on Spectral Predictions of Physiological Parameters. PLOS One 9(2)e88930
  41. Freedman A, Gross A , Shelef O, Rachmilevitch S, and Arnon S (2014) Evaluating the use of subsurface horizontal constructed wetlands to enhance the quality of domestic wastewater in arid environment. Ecological Engineering. 70: 282-286.
  42. Rewald B, Godbold D, Falik O and Rachmilevitch S (2014) Root and rhizosphere processes-high time to dig deeper. Front. Plant Sci. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2014.00278. (editorial).
  43. Degu A, Hochberg U, Sikron N, Venturini L, Buson G, Ghan R, Plaschkes I, Batushansky A, Chalifa-Caspi V, Mattivi F, Delledonne M, Pezzotti M, Rachmilevitch S, Cramer G and Fait A (2014) Metabolite and transcript profiling of berry skin during fruit development elucidates differential regulation between Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz cultivars at branching points in the polyphenol pathway. BMC Plant Biology 14: 188.
  44. Shelef O, Stavi I, Zduril P and Rachmilevitch S (2015) Land-use change, a case study from southern Italy: General implications for agricultural-subsidy policies. Land Degradation & Development doi: 10.1002/ldr.2343.
  45. Hochberg U, Degu A, Gendler T, Fait A and Rachmilevitch S (2015) The variability in the xylem architecture of grapevine petiole and its contribution to hydraulic differences. Functional Plant Biology 42(4): 357-365.
  46. Hochberg U, Degu A, Cramer G, Rachmilevitch S and Fait A  (2015) Cultivar specific metabolic changes in Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon in relation to deficit irrigation and hydraulic behavior.  Plant. Physiol. Biochem 88: 42-52.
  47. Hill A, Shelef O, Dawson T and Rachmilevitch S (2015) The Role of Dew for Negev Desert Plants. Oecologia 178(2) 317-327. (Highlighted student paper).
  48. Rouached H, Sikander P, Rachmilevitch S, Libault  M and  Lam-Son P (2015) Plants coping abiotic and biotic stresses: a tale of diligent management. BioMed research international doi: 10.1155/2015/754754. (editorial).
  49. Rubio-Asensio J Rachmilevitch S and Bloom A (2015) Responses of Arabidopsis and wheat to rising CO2 depend on nitrogen source and nighttime CO2 levels. Plant Physiology 168(1) 156-163.
  50. Rachmilevitch S, Cohen I and Huang B (2015) Carbon Allocation Patterns into Proteins and Lipids Associated with Superior Tolerance of Perennial Grass to High Soil Temperature. Crop Science 55 (5), 2262-2269.
  51. Rappaport T, Hochberg U, Karnieli A and Rachmilevitch S (2015) Combining leaf physiology, hyperspectral imaging and partial least squares-regression (PLS-R) for grapevine water status assessment. ISPRS Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing 109, 88-97.
  52. Hochberg U, Batushansky A, Degu A, Rachmilevitch S and Fait A (2015) Metabolic and physiological responses of Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon  (Vitis vinifera L.) to elevated temperatures. International Journal of Molecular Sciences 16 (10), 24276-24294.
  53. Yehoshua SB, Rachmilevitch S, Amiel E, Ofir R, Dudai N and Soloway E (2015) Revival if theextinct balm of gilead in Israel: studying its anti-cancer activity. Acta Horticulturae 1088 509-514.
  54. Eppel A and Rachmilevitch S (2016) The photosynthetic and photo-protective response of the annual desert plant Anastatica  hierochuntica in response to drought. Photosynthetica 54 (1) 143-147.
  55. Stavi I, Rachmilevitch S and Yizhaq H (2016) Small scale geodiversity sustains functioning and producrivity of shrubby, semi-arid rangeland. Land Degradation & Development  (accepted October 2015) DOI: 10.1002/ldr.2469.
  56. Shelef O, Guy O, Soloway E, Kam M, Degen AA and Rachmilevitch S (2016) Domestication of plants for sustainable agriculture in drylands – experience from the Negev desert. Arid Land Research and Management 30(2) 209-228.
  57. Stein O, Damari-Weissler H, Secchi F, Rachamilevitch S, German M, Yeselson Y; Amir R, Schaffer A, Holbrook M, Aloni R,Zwieniecki M and Granot D (2016)  The tomato plastidic fructokinase SlFRK3 plays a role in xylem development. New Phytologist (accepted September 2015).
  58. Hochberg U, Degu A, Fait A and Rachmilevitch S (2016) Grapevines hydraulic diversity- a critical consideration for irrigation management. Acta Horticulturae (accepted December 2015).
  59. Shelef O, Gendler T, Gutterman Y and Rachmilevitch S (2016) Low water availability and salinity effects on seedling viability of Bassia indica compared to B. iranica and B. prostrata (Chenopodiaceae).  Seed Science Research 26 (1) 77-83.
  60. Dirks I,  Raviv B, Shelef O, Hilll A, Eppel A, Aidoo MK, Hoefgen B, Rappaport T, Gil H, Geta E, Kochavi A, Cohen I and Rachmilevitch S (2016) Green roofs - What can we learn from desert plants? Israel Journal of Ecology & Evolution (accepted December 2015).
  61. Hochberb U,  Albuquerque C,  Rachmilevitch S,  Cochard H,  David-Schwartz R, Brodersen C, McElrone A and Windt CW (2016) Grapevine petioles are more sensitive to drought induced embolism than stems: evidence from in vivo MRI and microCT observations of hydraulic vulnerability segmentation. Plant Cell and Environement (accepted December 2015).
  62. Aidoo MK, Bdolach E, Fait A, Lazarovitch N and Rachmilevitch S (2016) Tolerance to high soil temperature in foxtail millet (Setaria italica L.)  is related to shoot and root growth and metabolism. Plant Physiology and Biochemistry. (accepted April 2016).
  63. Shelef O, Pongrac P, Primoz P, Pelicon P, Vavpetic P, Keleman M, Seifan M, Rewald B and Rachmilevitch S (2016) Insights into root structure and function of Bassia indica: water redistribution and element dispersion (accepted March 2016).


  1.  U.S. Patent no. 02720425-IL0200250 entitled "Enhancing Inorganic Carbon Fixation by Photosynthetic Organisms". Inventors: Kaplan A, Lieman-Hurwitz J, Rachmilevitch S, Mittler R, Bonfil D and Schatz D.
  2. U.S. Patent no. 20050108790 etitled “Plants characterized by enhanced growth and methods and nucleic acid constructs" Inventors: Kaplan A, Lieman-Hurwitz J, Asipov L, Schatz D, Mittler R, Rachmilevitch S and Bonfil D.