Prof. Rachel Amir

Prof. Rachel Amir
Research Group Leader
Research Interests:

Plant molecular biology; sulfur metabolism; metabolism of amino acids; biology of pomegranates

The research deals with plant biotechnology with an emphasis on plant metabolism. We focus on two main subjects:

A. The metabolism of methionine in plants
Methionine is a nutritionally essential, sulfur-containing amino acid. Methionine levels in plants are low, therefore it often limits the plant’s nutritional value as a source of dietary protein for humans and animals. Methionine is also a fundamental metabolite in plant cells since, through its first metabolite, S-adenosyl-methionine (SAM), it controls the level of several key metabolites, such as ethylene, polyamines and biotin. These metabolites in turn, control many processes in plants. The group studies the factors that regulate methionine synthesis and catabolism in vegetative tissues and in seeds. In addition we study the role of cysteine, which is a substrate for methionine and glutathione synthesis that has a major role in protecting plants during stresses. The group also studies the regulatory role of the first committed enzyme of methionine biosynthesis, cystathionine gamma synthase, in methionine synthesis in plants and the effect of metabolites of the aspartate family on methionine synthesis and its accumulation.

B. Elucidation the bioactive compounds in pomegranate fruits and the factors that regulate their content
Pomegranate fruits and juice contain high levels of health benefiting compounds. Our group studies different aspects of pomegranate biology, focusing on the identification of the compounds that contribute to the pomegranate’s antioxidant and antifungal activities, as well as the ability of extracts prepared from different fruit parts to inhibit the proliferation of several cancer cell lines. In addition, we also study the effects of different growth conditions and the developmental stage of the fruit on the level of these compounds.


Ph.D. 1994, Faculty of Agriculture, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
M.Sc .1985, Department of Botany, Tel Aviv University

Academic and research experience
2008–2011 Head of the Department of Environmental Science, Tel Hai Academic College
2007 to present Associate Professor, Tel Hai College
2002–2006 Senior Lecturer, Tel Hai College
1996–2001 Lecturer, Tel Hai College
1996-Head of Plant metabolism Laboratory, Migal
1994–1996 Post-doctoral fellow in the laboratory of Prof. Gad Galili, Department of Plant Science, Weizmann Institute of Science

Scientific Publications

Cystathionine γ-synthase expression alters metabolic and DNA methylation profiles in Arabidopsis leaves and seeds

Girija A, Hacham Y, Dvir  S, Panda S, Lieberman-Lazarovich M, Amir R.
Plant Physiology (In Press)

Elucidating the Importance of the Catabolic Enzyme, Methionine-gamma-Lyase, in Stresses during Arabidopsis Seed Development and Germination

Hacham Y, Shitrit O, Nisimi O, Friebach M, Amir R.
Frontiers in Plant Science 14: 1143021

A Myb transcription factor, PgMyb308-like, enhances the level of shikimate, aromatic amino acids, and lignins, but represses the synthesis of flavonoids and hydrolyzable tannins, in pomegranate (Punica granatum L.)

Dhakarey R, Yaritz U, Tian L, Amir R.
Horticulture Research. 9: uhac008. IF=7.291

Metabolic profiling of outer fruit peels from 15 accessions of pomegranate (Punica granatum L.)

Yaritz U, Schweitzer R, Holland D, Tian L, Amir R.
Journal of Food Composition and Analysis. IF=4.556

The effect of 10 hosts on the primary metabolic profile of the parasitic plant, Phelipanche aegyptiaca

Kumar K, Hacham Y, Amir R.
Metabolites 12, 1195 IF=5.58

Editorial: Amino Acids in Plants: Regulation and Functions in Development and Stress Defense

Trovato M, Funck D, Forlani G,  Okumoto S, Amir R.
Frontiers in Plant Science 12:772810. IF=6.627

Enhanced production of aromatic amino acids in tobacco plants leads to increased phenylpropanoid metabolites and tolerance to stresses

Oliva M, Guy A, Galili G, Dor E, Schweitzar R, Amir R*, Hacham Y.
Plant Science 11: 604349. * corresponding author. IF=6.627

Discovery and characterization of small molecule inhibitors of cystathionine gamma-synthase with in-planta activity

Bloch I, Haviv H, Rapoport I, Cohen E, Ben Shushan R, Dotan N, Hacham Y, Amir R*, GaL M.
Plant Biotechnology Journal 19: 1785-1797. *corresponding author IF=13.26

Evidence for a significant role for glutathione reductase in sulfur assimilation pathway

Cohen A, Hacham Y, Welfe Y, Amir R.
The Plant Journal 102: 246-261.

The level of methionine residues in storage proteins is the main limiting factor of protein-bound-methionine accumulation in Arabidopsis seeds

Girija A, Shotan D, Hacham Y, Amir R.
Frontiers in Plant Science 11:1136

Elucidating the role of shikimate dehydrogenase in controlling the production of anthocyanins and hydrolysable tannins in the outer peels of pomegranate

Habashi R, Hacham Y, Dhakarey R, Matityahu I, Holland D, Tian L, Amir R.
BMC Plant Biology volume 19, Article number: 476 (2019)

Root stem cell niche maintenance and apical meristem activity critically depend on THREONINE SYNTHASE1

Reyes-Hernández BJ, Shishkova S, Amir R, Quintana-Armas AX, Napsucialy-Mendivil S, Cervantes-Gámez RG, Torres-Martínez EG, Montiel J, Wood C, G. Dubrovsky J.
Journal of Experimental Botany 2019 Volume 70 Issue 15 Pages 3835-3849

Establishment of Punica granatum L. peel cell culture to produce bioactive compounds

Rubinovich L, Segev B, Habashi R, Con P, and Amir R.
Plant Cell, Tissue and Organ Culture 2019 Volume 138 Pages 131-140

The biodiversity of different traits of pomegranate fruit peels from a broad collection of diverse cultivars.

Amir R, Borochov-Neori H, Tian L, Holland D.
Scientia Horticulturae 2019 Volume 246 Pages 842-848

Gene expression and metabolite profiling analyses of developing pomegranate fruit peel reveal interactions between anthocyanin and punicalagin production.

Harel Beja R, Tian L, Freilich S, Habashi R, Borochov-Neori H, Lahav T, Trainin T, Doron-Faigenboim A, Ophir R, Bar-Ya?akov I, Amir R, Holland D.
Tree Genetics & Genomes 2019 Volume 15 Pages 22

The level of threonine in tobacco seeds is limited by substrate availability, while the level of methionine is limited also by the activity of cystathionine ?-synthase

Matityahu I, Godo I, Hacham Y, Amir R.
Plant Science 2019 Volume 283 Pages 195-205

Primary metabolites, anthocyanins and hydrolizable tannins in the pomegranate fruit

Bar-Ya'akov I, Tian L, Amir R, Holland D.
Frontiers in Plant Science 2019 Volume 17 Pages 620

Revisiting the attempts to fortify methionine contents in plant seeds. Journal of Experimental Botany.

Cohen H, Hacham Y, Amir R.
In Press 2019

The metabolic roles of free amino acids during seed development

Amir R, Galili G, Cohen H.
Plant Science 2018 Issue 275 Pages 11-18

What can we learn about the traits of aril juice by studying wide collections of diverse pomegranate fruits?

Amir R, Holland D, Tian L
In Pomegranate, cultivation, composition, antioxidant properties, and health benefits. ,2018, Rafat A. Siddiqui, Mohammed Akbar Ed. ,Nova Science Publishers, Inc. Hauppauge, NY., Pages 203-231

Characterization of a UGT84 family glycosyltransferase provides new insights into substrate binding and reactivity of galloylglucose ester-forming UGTs.

Wilson A, Feng X, Ono N, Holland D, Amir R, Tian, L.
Biochemistry 2018 Volume 56 Pages 6389-6400

Constitutive expression of feedback-insensitive cystathionine ?-synthase increases methionine levels in soybean leaves and seeds.

Yu Y, Hou W, Hacham Y, Sun S, Wu C, Matityahu I, Song S, Amir R, Han T.
Journal of Integrative Agriculture 2018 Volume 17 Issue 1 Pages 54?62

Metabolic investigation of Phelipanche aegyptiaca reveals significant changes during developmental stages and in its different organs

Nativ N, Hacham Y, Hershenhorn J, Dor E, Amir R.
Frontiers in Plant Science 2017 Volume 8 Pages 491

The relative contribution of genes operating in the S-methylmethionine cycle to methionine metabolism in Arabidopsis seeds.

Cohen H, Salmon A, Tietel Z, Hacham Y, Amir R.
Plant Cell Reports 2017 Volume 36 Issue 5 Pages 731-743

Metabolite fingerprinting of Punica granatum L. (pomegranate) polyphenols by means of high-performance liquid chromatograph with diode array and electrospary ionization mass spectrometry detection.

Brighenti V, Groothuis SF, Prencipe FP, Amir R, Benvenuti S, Pellati F.
Journal of Chromatography A 2017 Volume 1480 Pages 20?31