Ph.D.: Tel Aviv University, Israel
Post-doctorate: Harvard University, USA
Position: Senior Lecturer
Department of Biotechnology Engineering
Faculty of Engineering Sciences


Development of agar sphere polymeric encapsulation technology platform





  • Background

Microbial biotechnology, enhanced by genome studies, will lead to breakthroughs in a wide range of fields, including production of improved vaccines and better diseasediagnostic tools, development of new industrial catalysts and fermentation organisms, and preparation of new microbial agents for bioremediation of soil and water pollutants. As such, microbial genomics and biotechnology research will prove to be critical for advances in food safety, biotechnology, value-added products, human nutrition and functional foods, plant and animal protection, as well as furthering fundamental research in medical and agricultural sciences.

  • Current research

Presently, a novel platform technology for culturing previously “unculturable” microorganisms is being developed, using polymeric encapsulation of agar spheres. In practical terms, this approach involves a semi-permeable double polymeric layer coating an agar sphere, excluding microorganisms but allowing for free exchange of diffusible compounds. Inoculating such spheres with highly diluted microbial samples and then incubating them in a simulated environment, we have successfully retrieved novel microorganisms from different environments (e.g. marine and soil).

In addition, the laboratory is developing protocols designed for high-throughput screening of anti-microbial compounds produced in sub-inhibitory concentrations by microorganisms, including those grown in the capsules described above. This technique, developed with the cooperation of the Marks group of the NIBN, utilizes a bioluminescent bacterial reporter-gene system as a screening tool. Given the current demand for novel antibiotics, great promise lies in employing this novel screening method in the pharmaceutical industry. This technology holds a potential for industrialization following methodological perfection. The combination of these approaches opens new windows on the world of uncultured microorganisms.

Another emerging and challenging field in microbial biotechnology and medical research concerns the formation of microbial biofilms. Ongoing projects in the laboratory consider a range of related topics, from how biofilms are formed to the nature of the signaling and communication cues within a biofilm and between a biofilm and its environment. Of particular interest is research being performed in collaboration with the Soroka University Medical Center addressing biofilm formation on filtration membranes and pathogenic biofilm components that develop in peritoneal dialysis patients.

  • Selected publications

Ben-dov E., Kramarsky-winter E. and Kushmaro A. (2009). An in situ method for cultivating microorganisms using a double encapsulation technique. FEMS Microbiology Ecology 68 (3):363-371.

Golberg K., Eltzov E., Shnit- Orland M., Marks R.S. and Kushmaro A. (2011). Characterization of Quorum Sensing Signals in Coral-Associated Bacteria. Microbial Ecology 61(4):783-792.

Eltzov E., Pennybaker S., Shnit-Orland M., Marks R.S. and Kushmaro A. (2012). Multi-resistance as a tool for detecting novel beta-lactam antibiotics in the environment. Sensors & Actuators: B. Chemical B 174:342-348.

Yin S. Goldovsky Y., Herzberg M., Liu L., Sun H., Zhang Y., Meng F., Cao X., Sun D.D., Chen H., Kushmaro A. and Chen X. (2013). Functional Free-stansding Graphene Honeycomb Films. Adv. Funct. Mater 23(23):2972-2978.

Goldberg K., Pavlov V., Marks R.S. and Kushmaro A. (2013). Coral-associated bacteria, quorum sensing disrupter and the regulation of biofouling. Biofouling 29(6):669-682.

Yaakobi K., Liebes-Peer Y., Kushmaro A. and Rapaport H. (2013). Designed amphiphilic β-sheet peptides as templates for paraoxon adsorption and detection. Langmuir 29(23):6840-6848.