Dr. Ofir Degani

Dr. Ofir Degani
Principal Investigator
Ofir Degani
Research Group Leader
Senior Lecturer
PhD
Phytopathology, Biological Control
Phone
972-54-6780114
Research Interests:

 

Phytopathology and Crop Protection

About Dr. Ofir Degani’s Research Group

Dr. Ofir Degani completed his Ph.D., specializing in genetic engineering approaches in phytopathology, at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology (Haifa, Israel). Dr. Degani carried out post-doctoral studies at the Migal – Galilee Research Institute (Israel) and is currently a research group leader of the phytopathology laboratory at this institute and a senior staff member at Tel-Hai College (Israel). His research is based on molecular,  biochemical and phytopathological approaches and focusses on the understanding and prevention of plant fungal diseases. His group has been leading the research in Israel for the past decade on Magnaporthiopsis maydis, the agent of late wilt of corn. Additional soil fungal diseases that are currently the focus of Dr. Degani’s lab research are Fusarium verticillioides, the causal agent of maize stalk rot, Macrophomina phaseolina, the causal agent of charcoal rot, and Fusarium spp., the causal agents of onion (Allium cepa) basal rot.

Current ongoing research topics:

  • Study the “plant disease triangle” - the combined influence of the host plant, the fungal pathogen, and the environment on plant diseases and crop protection. 
  • Chemical protection (using seed treatments, spraying, and dripline irrigation) of maize and other crops against fungal pathogens.
  • Develop biological approaches to protect crops from soil diseases. This includes the use of biocontrol agents (fungi and bacteria), strengthening soil mycorrhizal networks (the soil microbiome), manipulating the plants’ natural endophytes (the plant microbiome), and enhancing the plants’ natural defense system.
  • Investigate the interactions between phytopathogenic fungi and their combined influence on crop disease burst and severity.
  • Develop and use research tools to monitor and study crops’ fungal diseases, in the greenhouse and in the field. These methods include the quantitive-Real-Time tracking of the pathogen’s DNA inside the host tissue and the use of remote sensing based on the high-resolution, visible-channel, green-red vegetation index (GRVI) and thermal aerial imaging.
Maize late wilt disease research
Maize late wilt disease research

 

Research plan and challenges

The growing trend of reducing pesticides’ use raises the need for alternative ways of coping with severe fungal diseases such as the late wilt of maize. Hence, we propose developing two environmentally friendly strategies to control maize late wilt disease, for which we have gained positive preliminary results. First, maintaining the continuity of soil mycorrhizal fungi between seasons has proven to be an essential factor in various field crops. Still, it has not yet been tested against the late wilt pathogen in Israel. The potential of strengthening soil mycorrhizal networks against the soil fungal pathogen has only now started to be revealed. The unique case of late wilt disease and the encouraging preliminary results provide an excellent opening stage and opportunity to investigate this control method. In order to do this, we will be required to:

  • Repeat and establish the results using a greenhouse pot experiment over a full growth period
  • Identify the mycorrhizal fungi involved
  • Examine ways of strengthening the desired soil mycorrhizal networks
  • Extend the research to field experiments

Similarly, in recent years we have conducted research with a new Trichoderma spp. isolates and achieved promising results. Consequently, we propose using the effective Trichoderma spp. or their extract in order to prevent the penetration and establishment of the M. maydis pathogen at the early growth period of maize. Thus we suggest using the late wilt controlling agents – Trichoderma isolates and developing application methods to implement them. This goal will require several steps:

  • Identifying the active compound/s in the Trichoderma spp. extract
  • Examining ways of enhancing the secretion of these ingredients
  • Applying the Trichoderma spp. hyphae or the extract and examining it in sprouts (up to the age of 40 days) under controlled conditions in a growth chamber
  • Examining the Trichoderma spp. (extract and hyphae) seed coating against direct application of the fungi or their section to the soil under field conditions over a full growth period

We are now specializing in two important and severe corp diseases: cotton charcoal rot, caused by Macrophomina phaseolina, and onion (Allium cepa) basal rot caused by Fusarium spp. The challenges of developing efficient and cost-effective strategies to reduce the diseases’ damages include:

  • Study these pathogens and their interactions with the host, under different environmental conditions.
  • Undersending the involvement of other fungal phytopathogens in the diseases’ outburst and damages.
  • Develop a new research tool-kit to study those diseases.
  • Search for new ways (chemical, biological, and agro-mechanical) to restrict those diseases’ harmful effects and prevent their spreading.

 

Agronomy April 2019 cover page
Agronomy April 2019 cover page

 

CV

Education

Ph.D. 2005, Biology, Technion Institute of Technology, Israel
M.Sc. 2001, Biology, Technion Institute of Technology, Israel


Academic and research experience

  1. 2007  Present  –  Principal Investigator and Research group leader, Plant Sciences, Molecular Phytopathology lab, MIGAL - Galilee Research Institute, Israel
  2. 2005 2007 – Postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Doron Goldberg, MIGAL - Galilee Research Institute, Israel
  3. 2006  Senior lecturer and staff member, Tel-Hai Academic College, Israel
  4. 2001 – Senior lecturer and staff member, Ohalo academic College, Israel

Other activity and service

  1. 2008 – Today – Headmaster of the Tel-Hai Science and Knowledge Center for the Gifted and Talented Pupils, the Israel Ministry of Education, the Pedagogical Administration, the Division for the Gifted and Talented Pupils, Israel
  2. 2014 – 2017 – Head of the North Israel Group of Centers for Gifted and Talented Children, the Israel Ministry of Education, the Pedagogical Administration, the Division for the Gifted and Talented Pupils, Israel
Maize late wilt disease research
Maize late wilt disease research (field photo by Asaf Solomn)

 

Funding

The subject of research – Late wilt disease of maize, unless otherwise indicated.

  1. 2006 - 2012 - Ohalo academic college (27,000 INS).
  2. 2007 - Israel Northern R&D (25,000 INS).
  3. 2008 - The Jewish National Fund (Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael) (50,000 INS).
  4. 2009 - Israel Plant Council, Ministry of Agriculture (35,000 INS).
  5. 2010 - Israel Plant Council, Ministry of Agriculture (35,000 INS).
  6. 2011 - The Jewish National Fund (Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael) (15,000 INS).
  7. 2012 - Israel Plant Council, Ministry of Agriculture (25,000 INS).
  8. 2013 - Israel Northern R&D (40,000 INS).
  9. 2014 - Israel Northern R&D (20,000 INS).
  10. 2015 - 2017 - Israel Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development Chief Scientist (420,000 INS, leading scientist).
  11. 2017 - Migal - Galilee Research Institute (45,000 INS).
  12. 2017 - Netafim Ltd. Israel (8,000 INS).
  13. 2018 - Israel Organization of extensive cultivation (25,000 INS).
  14. 2018 - Israel Organization of Cotton (17,000 INS).

Interactions between Magnaporthiopsis maydis and Macrophomina phaseolina, the Causes of Wilt Diseases in Maize and Cotton.

  1. 2018 - Migal - Galilee Research Institute (140,000 INS).
  2. 2018 - Israel Plant Council, Ministry of Agriculture (41,000 INS).

Isolation and Identification of Fusarium spp., the Causal Agents of Onion (Allium cepa) Basal Rot in Northeastern Israel.

  1. 2019 - Israel Organization of Cotton (15,000 INS).

Interactions between Magnaporthiopsis maydis and Macrophomina phaseolina, the Causes of Wilt Diseases in Maize and Cotton.

  1. 2019 - Israel Organization of extensive cultivation (25,000 INS).
  2. 2019 - Israel Plant Council, Ministry of Agriculture (8,000 INS).

Isolation and Identification of Fusarium spp., the Causal Agents of Onion (Allium cepa) Basal Rot in Northeastern Israel.

  1. 2019 – 2021 - Israel Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development Chief Scientist (82,000 INS).
  2. 2020 – ICA – Migal accelerator, Israel (100,000 INS).
  3. 2020 - Israel Organization of Cotton (20,000 INS).

Biological control of Macrophomina phaseolina, the cotton charcoal rot disease causal agent.

  1. 2020 - Tel-Hai College, Israel, Science Relations Foundation, (20,000 INS).
  2. 2020 - Israel Plant Council, Ministry of Agriculture (10,500 INS).

Biological control of Fusarium spp., the Causal Agents of Onion (Allium cepa) Basal Rot.

Scientific Publications

Isolation and Identification of Fusarium spp., the causal agents of onion (Allium cepa) basal rot in northeastern Israel.

Kalman, B., Abraham, D., Graph, S., Perl-Treves, R., Meller Harel, Y., Degani, O.
Biology, 9, 69
2020

Molecular tracking and remote sensing to evaluate new chemical treatments against the maize late wilt disease causal agent

Degani, O., Dor, S., Chen, A., Orlov-Levin, V., Stolov-Yosef, A., Regev, D., Rabinovitz, O.
Magnaporthiopsis maydis. Journal of Fungi, 6, 54
2020

Potential role of laccases in the relationship of the maize late wilt causal agent, Magnaporthiopsis maydis, and its host.

Degani, O., Goldblat, Y.
Journal of Fungi, 6, 63
2020

Soil bioassay for detecting Magnaporthiopsis maydis infestation using a hyper susceptible maize hybrid.

Degani O., Regev D., Dor S., and, Rabinowitz O.
Journal of Fungi, 6, 107
2020

Interactions between Magnaporthiopsis maydis and Macrophomina phaseolina, the causes of wilt diseases in maize and cotton. Microorganisms

Degani, O., Dor, S., Abraham, D., Cohen, R.
Microorganisms (2020), 8, 249
2020

Evaluating Azoxystrobin seed coating against maize late wilt disease using a sensitive qPCR-based method.

Degani O., Movshowitz D., Dor S., Meerson A., Goldblat Y., and Rabinovitz O.
Plant Disease 2019 Volume 103 Issue 2 Pages 238-248
2019

Methods for Studying Magnaporthiopsis maydis, the Maize Late Wilt Causal Agent.

Degani O., Dor S., Movshovitz D. and Rabinovitz O.,
Agronomy 2019 Volume 9 Issue 4 Pages 181
2019

Uncovering the host range for maize pathogen Magnaporthiopsis maydis

Dor S. and Degani O.,
Plants 2019 Volume 8 Issue 8 Pages 259
2019

Effective chemical protection against the maize late wilt causal agent, Harpophora maydis, in the field.

Degani O., Dor S., Movshowitz D., Fraidman E., Rabinowitz O. and Graph S.,
PloS ONE 2018 Volume 13 Issue 12 Pages e0208353
2018

Accurate virulence test method for Cochliobolus heterostrophus wild-type and mutant strains in the post-genomic era.

Degani, O.
In In Pathogenicity of Cochliobolus Species in Post Genomic Era. 1st Edition ,2017, Bengyella L. and Devi Waikhom S. Ed. ,Stadium Press LLC, Texas, USA, Pages 92-111
2017

Cochliobolus heterostrophus T-toxin gene expression modulation via G protein and MAPK pathways.

Degani, O.
Plant Protection Science 2015 Volume 51 Issue 2 Pages 53-60
2015

Mediation of Fungicide Fludioxonil Activity and Resistance through Cochliobolus heterostrophus G-protein and MAPK Signaling Pathways.

Degani, O.,
Phytoparasitica 2015 Volume 43 Issue 2 Pages 215-228
2015

Plant growth hormones suppress the development of Harpophora maydis, the cause of late wilt in maize.

Degani, O., Drori R. and Goldblat Y.
Physiology and Molecular Biology of Plants 2015 Volume 21 Issue 1 Pages 137-149
2015

Production and purification of cutinase from fusarium oxysporum using modified growth media and specificity cutinase substrate.

Degani, O.,
Applied Advances in Bioscience and Biotechnology 2015 Volume 6 Issue 4 Pages 245-258.
2015

Pathogenicity Assay for Cochliobolus heterostrophus G-Protein and MAPK Signaling Deficiency Strains.

Degani, O.,
American Journal of Plant Sciences 2014 Volume 5 Issue 9 Pages 1318-1328
2014

Ambient Stresses Regulate the Development of the Maize Late Wilt Causing Agent, Harpophora Maydis.

Degani, O. and Goldblat Y.,
Agricultural Sciences 2014 Volume 5 Issue 7 Pages 571-582.
2014

Chemical control of maize late wilt in the field.

Degani, O.,Weinberg, T. and Graph, S.,
Phytoparasitica 2014 Volume 42 Issue 4 Pages 559-570.
2014

Diagnosis and Control of Harpophora maydis, the Cause of Late Wilt in Maize.

Degani, O., Cernica, G.,
Advances in Microbiology 2014 Volume 4 Issue 2 Pages 94-105
2014

G protein and MAPK signaling pathways control the ability of Cochliobolus heterostrophus to exploit different carbon sources.

Degani, O.,
Advances in Biological Chemistry 2014 Volume 4 Issue 1 Pages 40-50
2014

Gene expression modulation of two biosynthesis pathways via signal transduction in Cochliobolus heterostrophus.

Degani, O.,
Advances in Bioscience and Biotechnology 2014 Volume 5 Issue 4 Pages 340-352
2014

Cochliobolus heterostrophus G-protein alpha and beta subunit double mutant reveals shared and distinct roles in development and virulence

O. Degani
Physiological and Molecular Plant Pathology 2013 Volume 82 Issue 0 Pages 35-45
2013

Construction of a Constitutively Activated Gα Mutant in the Maize Pathogen Cochliobolus heterostrophus

O. Degani
American Journal of Plant Sciences 2013 Volume 4 Pages 2394-2399
2013

Hydrophobin gene expression in the maize pathogen Cochliobolus heterostrophus

O. Degani; S. Lev; M. Ronen
Physiological and Molecular Plant Pathology 2013 Volume 83 Issue 0 Pages 25-34
2013

Molecular diagnosis for Harpophora maydis, the cause of maize late wilt in Israel

R. DRORI; A. SHARON; D. GOLDBERG; O. RABINOVITZ; M. LEVY; O. DEGANI
Phytopathologia Mediterranea 2012 Volume 52 Issue 1 Pages 16-29
2012

Distinct and combined roles of the MAP kinases of Cochliobolus heterostrophus in virulence and stress responses

A. Igbaria; S. Lev; M. S. Rose; B. N. Lee; R. Hadar; O. Degani; B. A. Horwitz
Mol Plant Microbe Interact 2008 Volume 21 Issue 6 Pages 769-80
2008