The research group of
BGU's Prof. Itzik Mizrahi in the
Department of Life Sciences has won a prestigious and highly competitive DIP
grant, sponsored by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), a German
organization that funds research. He will collaborate with his German
colleague, Prof. William F. Martin of Heinrich-Heine-University Dusseldorf.
Prof. Mizrahi is also a member of the National Institute for Biotechnology in the Negev (NIBN).
Israeli research universities are invited to submit two proposals each and
grants are provided to just two of the 14 proposals submitted each year. The
grants are designed to increase Israel-German research cooperation.
Last month, the European Research Council announced that Prof. Mizrahi was
among the recipients of its Consolidator Grants. The Mizrahi Group also
received an ERC Starting Grant a few years ago.
The project “Unraveling the evolutionary, ecological and structural basis of
microbial fiber degradation in nature" aims to understand the evolutionary
history of fiber degradation and its interconnectivity with microbial ecology
at a nanoscale resolution.
The groups will better our understanding of how microbes degrade plant biomass
and how and when they learned to do so in evolutionary history. Plant biomass
is an elemental part of carbon cycling on the planet earth and, as the biggest
biomass on our planet, constitutes a large portion of the waste that humanity
Learning how to degrade and recycle this biomass in an efficient manner is
extremely relevant to many sustainable environmental issues - ranging from
global warming and alternative energies to waste treatment. Microbes are the
most efficient organisms to perform plant biomass degradation, and yet we still
do not fully understand how they operate. Therefore, learning from them, then
mimicking and bettering this process, would bring about great advances in our
efforts towards full sustainability.
Prof. Mizrahi is an expert in the environmental and microbial ecology of
fiber-degrading systems and has assembled a team of leading specialists backed
by internationally recognized excellence for this project. In proteomics (Prof.
Dorte Becher, Ernst-Moritz-Arndt University Greifswald, (EMAU)), structural
biology/cryo-EM (Prof. Ohad Medalia, BGU), enzymology of fiber degradation
(Prof. Edward Bayer, BGU), and microbial evolution (the German PI, Prof.