My research interests focus on how plants adapt to environmental stress. My lab activities are a blend of basic research and its application to answering modern agricultural needs as well as applied research aimed at increasing agricultural income in arid zones by adding new crops and developing new agro-techniques. For example, one project involved improving the salt resistance and fruit quality of tomatoes and other vegetable crops while another focused on using highly saline water for developing cash-crop halophytes for potential halophyte growers.
My core research revolves around a unique family of enzymes, nitrate reductase (NR), sulfite oxidase (SO), aldehyde oxidase (AO) and xanthine dehydrogenase (XDH), the members of which contain molybdo-pterin co factors (Moco) as their active centers. Via the analysis of impaired Moco mutants, my work showed that the additional Moco sulfuration step is essential for the activation of XDH and AO and provides a potential regulatory point for XDH and AO activities. Furthermore, these enzymes are induced by salinity, drought and ABA (phyto-hormone), yet affect plant ABA and control the plant's water status and biomass production when exposed to drought and salinity stresses. Interestingly, each activity has distinct reactive oxygen species (ROS) signatures. Recently, I demonstrated that SO can control sulfur dioxide poisoning in plants. The basic research described above can be applied to answering modern agricultural and ecological needs, including, but not limited to, improved disease control in fruits and vegetables by fumigation with more effective doses of sulfur dioxide, killing pathogens without damaging the fruits/vegetables, and detoxifying the air pollutant sulfur dioxide using SO overexpression plants that are able to convert sulfite into harmless sulfate.
The Israel Science foundation (ISF) 417/03. (2003-2008) Novel role of molybdoenzymes in biotic and abiotic stresses.
2006-2009- Ministry of Agriculture, Chief Scientist Project 857-0498-06-Moshe Sagi (PI)-Development of Salicornia leafy vegetable for the export market, using saline water. In cooperation with Ramat Hanegev R&D and Dead Sea R&D.
2006-2009-Ministry of Agriculture, Chief Scientist Project 884-0186-06- Moshe Sagi (PI)-Development of Atriplex hortensis salty leafy vegatable for the export markt. 11/2006-05/2009-EU, Sixth Framework Improvement of the cost effectiveness of marine land-based aquaculture facilities through use of Constructed Wetlands with Salicornia as an environmentally friendly biofilter and a valuable by-product, Proposal