Dr. Ofir Degani

Dr. Ofir Degani
Principal Investigator
Ofir Degani
Senior Lecturer
Research Group Leader
PhD
Phone
972-54-6780114
Phytopathology and Crop Protection

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 focuses on the understanding and prevention of plant fungal diseases. His group has been leading the research in Israel on M. 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.
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 sp. 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 2021– 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
  1. 2006 - 2012 – (1) Understanding fungicide activity and resistance regulation through fungal signaling pathways. (2) Involvement of Harpophora maydis in causing late wilt disease in corn – diagnosis and control – Ohalo academic college – 27,000 INS (leading scientist).
  2. 2007 – Diagnosis and control of maize late wilt disease – Israel Northern R&D - 25,000 INS (leading scientist).
  3. 2008 – Involvement of the fungus Harpophora maydis in causing late wilt disease in sweet corn: characterizing the course of the disease and finding ways to control it – The Jewish National Fund, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael – 50,000 INS (leading scientist) – collaborators: Prof. Benjamin A Horwitz, Dr. Doron Goldberg, and Mr. Shaul Graph.
  4. 2009Harpophora maydis wilt of corn: Characterization of the disease cycle and development of protection and control – Israel Plant Council, Ministry of Agriculture – 35,000 INS (leading scientist) – collaborators: Prof. Benjamin A Horwitz, Dr. Doron Goldberg, Dr. Efraim Zuckerman, and Mr. Shaul Graph.
  5. 2010Harpophora maydis wilt of corn: Characterization of the disease cycle and development of protection and control – Israel Plant Council, Ministry of Agriculture – 35,000 INS (leading scientist) – collaborators: Dr. Efraim Zuckerman and Mr. Shaul Graph.
  6. 2011Harpophora maydis wilt of corn: Characterization of the disease cycle and development of protection and control – Israel Plant Council, Ministry of Agriculture – 15,000 INS (leading scientist) – collaborators: Mr. Shaul Graph.
  7. 2011 – Experiments in eradicating the late dehydration disease in corn – Israel Plant Council, Ministry of Agriculture – 25,000 INS – collaborators: Dr. Tsafrir Weinberg, Mr. Shaul Graph, and Dr. Onn Rabinovitz.
  8. 2012Harpophora maydis wilt of corn: Characterization of the disease cycle and development of protection and control – The Jewish National Fund (Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael) – 25,000 INS (leading scientist) – collaborators: Mr. Shaul Graph.
  9. 2013 – Involvement of Harpophora maydis in sweet corn wilt disease: characterizing the disease course and developing ways to eradicate it – Israel Northern R&D – 40,000 INS (leading scientist) – collaborators: Mr. Shaul Graph.
  10. 2014 – Ambient Stresses influence on the development of the maize late wilt Causing agent, Harpophora maydis – Israel Northern R&D – 20,000 INS (leading scientist).
  11. 2015 - 2017 – Protection and control against Harpophora maydis, the causing agent of maize late wilt – Israel Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development Chief Scientist – 420,000 INS (leading scientist) – collaborators: Dr. Mery Dafny Yelin and Mr. Shaul Graph.
  12. 2017 – Biological control against Harpophora maydis, the maize Late-wilt disease causal agent – Migal – Galilee Research Institute.
  13. 2017 – Improved chemical control against the cause of late wilt in corn– Netafim Ltd. Israel – 8,000 INS (leading scientist) – collaborators: Dr. Onn Rabinovitz and Mr. Shaul Graph.
  14. 2018 – Thermal detection and chemical control of the maize late wilt causing agent, Harpophora maydis – Israel Organization of extensive cultivation – 25,000 INS (leading scientist) – collaborators: Dr. Moshe Meron, Dr. Assaf Chen and Mr. Shaul Graph.
  15. 2018 Interactions between Magnaporthiopsis maydis and Macrophomina phaseolina, the Causes of Wilt Diseases in Maize and Cotton – Israel Council for Cotton Production and Marketing Ltd. – 17,000 INS (leading scientist) – collaborators: Dr. Roni Cohen and Mr. Shaul Graph.
  16. 2018 – Biological control against Harpophora maydis, the maize Late-wilt disease causal agent – Migal – Galilee Research Institute – 140,000 INS (leading scientist).
  17. 2018 – Biological control of pests and diseases in cannabis – Migal – Galilee Research Institute – 90,000 INS – collaborators: Dr. Haim Reuveni and Dr. Chen Katz.
  18. 2018 – Characterization of the profile of volatiles from the leaves and flowers of the cannabis plant in response to environmental stress – Migal – Galilee Research Institute – 90,000 INS – collaborators: Dr. Haim Reuveni, Dr. Soliman Khatib, and Prof. Jacob Vaya.
  19. 2018 – Isolation and Identification of Fusarium spp., the Causal Agents of Onion (Allium cepa) Basal Rot in Northeastern Israel – Israel Plant Council, Ministry of Agriculture – 41,000 INS (leading scientist) – collaborators: Mr. Shaul Graph.
  20. 2019 – Interactions between Magnaporthiopsis maydis and Macrophomina phaseolina, the Causes of Wilt Diseases in Maize and Cotton – Israel Council for Cotton Production and Marketing Ltd. – 15,000 INS (leading scientist) – collaborators: Dr. Roni Cohen.
  21. 2019 – The presence of Harpophora maydis in fodder maize, its interaction with other endophytes in the plant, and its effect on the nutritional value of the corn silage – Israel Organization of extensive cultivation – 25,000 INS (leading scientist) – collaborators: Dr. Assaf Chen and Dr. Onn Rabinovitz.
  22. 2019 – Isolation, characterization, and control of Fusarium spp. f. sp. cepae, the cause of the onion basal plate rot, in northern Israel – Israel Plant Council, Ministry of Agriculture – 8,000 INS (leading scientist) – collaborators: Mr. Shaul Graph.
  23. 2019 2021 Using remote sensing tools for the early detection and prevention of soil-borne diseases in field crops while reducing amounts of pesticides and increasing yield – Israel Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development Chief Scientist – 450,000 INS (partial share 82,000 INS) – collaborators: Dr. Assaf Chen and Dr. Mery Dafny Yelin.
  24. 2020 – Isolation and identification of active ingredient against Magnaporthiopsis maydis, the maize Late-wilt disease causal agent – ICA – Migal accelerator, Israel – 100,000 INS (leading scientist) – collaborators: Prof. Soliman Khatib.
  25. 2020 – Biological control of Macrophomina phaseolina, the cotton charcoal rot disease causal agent – Israel Council for Cotton Production and Marketing Ltd. – 20,000 INS (leading scientist).
  26. 2020 – Eco-friendly control against corn late wilt by strengthening the soil mycorrhizal networks – Tel-Hai College, Israel, Science Relations Foundation – 20,000 INS (leading scientist) – collaborators: Dr. Hagai Shemesh and Dr. Onn Rabinovitz.
  27. 2020 – Chemical control of Fusarium spp., the Causal Agents of Onion (Allium cepa) Basal Rot – Israel Plant Council, Ministry of Agriculture – 10,500 INS (leading scientist) – collaborators: Mr. Shaul Graph and Mr, Elyahu Margalit.
  28. 2021 – Purification and identification of Trichoderma asperellum secreted ingredients with antifungal activity against Magnaporthiopsis maydis, the maize late-wilt disease causal agent – Migal – Galilee Research Institute – 40,000 INS (leading scientist) – collaborators: Prof. Soliman Khatib.
  29. 2021 – Cultivars' resistance assay for maize late wilt disease – CTS Group – 14,000 INS (leading scientist).
  30. 2021 Chemical control of Fusarium spp., the Causal Agents of Onion (Allium cepa) Basal Rot – Israel Plant Council, Ministry of Agriculture – 18,000 INS (leading scientist) – collaborators: Mr. Shaul Graph and Mr, Elyahu Margalit.
  31. 2022 – Combined biological-chemical pesticide to prevent late wilt in corn – Israel Organization of extensive cultivation – 20,000 INS (leading scientist) –collaborators: Dr. Onn Rabinovitz.
  32. 2022 Isolation and Identification of Fusarium spp., the Causal Agents of Onion (Allium cepa) Basal Rot in Northeastern Israel – Israel Plant Council, Ministry of Agriculture – 17,000 INS (leading scientist) – collaborators: Mr. Shaul Graph and Mr, Elyahu Margalit.
  33. 2022 Isolation and Identification of apple fruits fungal pathogens – Israel Plant Council, Fruit Branch, Ministry of Agriculture – 7,000 INS –collaborators: Dr. Shaul Naschitz.
  34. 2022 – Development of an eco-friendly pesticide interface, based on Trichoderma fungi, against the cause of cotton charcoal rot – Israel Council for Cotton Production and Marketing Ltd. – 55,000 INS (leading scientist) – collaborators: Dr. Onn Rabinovitz and Dr. Assaf Chen.
  35. 2022 – Developing an Azoxystrobin slow-release clay carrier for eco-friendly control of corn late wilt disease – Tel-Hai College, Israel, Science Relations Foundation – 20,000 INS (leading scientist) – collaborators: Prof. Giora Rytwo.
  36. 2023 – The process of the formation of Alternaria black spot disease in stored persimmons and its prevention through treatments with antioxidants – Tel-Hai College, Israel, Science Relations Foundation – 20,000 INS (leading scientist) – collaborators: Dr. Shaul Naschitz, Prof. Soliman Khatib, Prof. Dov Prusky.
  37. 2023 – Developing an Azoxystrobin slow-release clay carrier for eco-friendly control of corn late wilt disease – ICA Israel (Jewish Colonization Association) – 25,000 $ (leading scientist) – collaborators: Prof. Giora Rytwo.

Scientific Publications

Prevention and Control of Fusarium spp., the Causal Agents of Onion (Allium cepa) Basal Rot

Degani, Ofir, Elhanan Dimant, Asaf Gordani, Shaul Graph, and Eliyahu Margalit
Horticulturae. 2022; 8(11):1071.
https://doi.org/10.3390/horticulturae8111071
2022

Aggressive strains of the late wilt fungus of corn exist in Israel in mixed populations and can specialize in disrupting growth or plant health

Galia Shofman, Marlen Bahouth and Ofir Degan
Fungal Biology, In Press, October 2022
doi:10.1016/j.funbio.2022.10.003
2022

New Antifungal Compound, 6-Pentyl-α-Pyrone, against the Maize Late Wilt Pathogen, Magnaporthiopsis maydis

Ofir Degani and Asaf Gordani
Agronomy 2022, 12, 2339.
https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy12102339
2022

Crop Rotation and Minimal Tillage Selectively Affect Maize Growth Promotion under Late Wilt Disease Stress

Degani, Ofir, Asaf Gordani, Paz Becher, Assaf Chen, and Onn Rabinovitz.
Journal of Fungi. 2022; 8(6):586.
2022

Remote evaluation of maize cultivars susceptibility to late wilt disease caused by Magnaporthiopsis maydis

Ofir Deganiת Assaf Chen, Shlomit Dor, Valerie Orlov-Levin, Moran Jacob, Gil Shoshani & Onn Rabinovitz
Journal of Plant Pathology, 2022
https://doi.org/10.1007/s42161-022-01039-9
2022

Pathogenic Interactions between Macrophomina phaseolina and Magnaporthiopsis maydis in Mutually Infected Cotton Sprouts

Degani, Ofir, Paz Becher, and Asaf Gordani
Agriculture 2022, 12(2), 255
https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12020255
2022

Control Strategies to Cope with Late Wilt of Maize

Pathogens 2022, 11, 13.
https://doi.org/10.3390/pathogens11010013
2022

A Review: Late Wilt of Maize—The Pathogen, the Disease, Current Status, and Future Perspective

Journal of Fungi, 2021; 7(11):989
2021

Crop Cycle and Tillage Role in the Outbreak of Late Wilt Disease of Maize Caused by Magnaporthiopsis maydis

Ofir Degani, Asaf Gordani, Paz Becher and Shlomit Dor
Journal of Fungi, 2021, 7, 706.
https://doi.org/10.3390/jof7090706
2021

Trichoderma asperellum Secreted 6-Pentyl-α-Pyrone to Control Magnaporthiopsis maydis, the Maize Late Wilt Disease Agent

Ofir Degani, Soliman Khatib, Paz Becher, Asaf Gordani and Raviv Harris
Biology 2021, 10, 897.
doi:10.3390/biology10090897
2021

Early detection of soil-borne diseases in field crops via remote sensing

Chen A., Jacob M., Shoshani G., Dafny-Yelin M., Degani O. and Rabinovitz O.
Precision agriculture’21. Wageningen Academic Publishers, 2021. 37-44
2021

Trichoderma longibrachiatum and Trichoderma asperellum Confer Growth Promotion and Protection against Late Wilt Disease in the Field

Degani O, Rabinovitz O, Becher P, Gordani A, Chen A.
Journal of Fungi. 2021; 7(6):444.
2021

The Microflora of Maize Grains as a Biological Barrier against the Late Wilt Causal Agent, Magnaporthiopsis maydis

Degani Ofir, Regev Danielle and Dor Shlomit.
Agronomy. 2021; 11(5):965.
2021

Assessment of Commercial Fungicides against Onion (Allium cepa) Basal Rot Disease Caused by Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cepae and Fusarium acutatum

Degani Ofir and Kalman Ben
Journal of Fungi (2021), 7, 235.
2021

Trichoderma Biological Control to Protect Sensitive Maize Hybrids against Late Wilt Disease in the Field

Degani Ofir and Dor Shlomit
Journal of Fungi (2021), 7, 315.
2021

Synergism between Cutinase and Pectinase in the Hydrolysis of Cotton Fibers’ Cuticle

Degani O.
Catalysts (2021), 11, 84.
2021

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

Degani Ofir and Goldblat Yuval
Journal of Fungi (2020), 6, 63.
2020

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

Degani Ofir, Regev Danielle, Dor Shlomit and Rabinovitz Onn
Journal of Fungi (2020), 6, 107.
2020

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

Kalman Ben, Abraham Dekel, Graph Shaul, Perl-Treves Rafael, Meller Harel Yael and Degani, Ofir.
Biology (2020), 9, 69.
2020

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

Degani Ofir, Dor Shlomit, Abraham Dekel and Cohen, Roni.
Microorganisms (2020), 8, 249.
2020

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

Degani Ofir, Dor Shlomit, Chen Assaf, Orlov-Levin Valerie, Stolov-Yosef Avital, Regev Danielle and Rabinovitz Onn
Journal of Fungi (2020), 6, 54.
2020

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

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

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