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

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

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

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

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

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 2017 Pages in press

Secondary Effects of Glyphosate Action in Phelipanche aegyptiaca: Inhibition of Solute Transport from the Host Plant to the Parasite.

Shilo T, Rubin B, Plakhine D, Gal S, Amir R, Hacham Y, Wolf S, Eizenberg H.
Frontiers in Plant Science 2017 Volume 8 Pages 255

Elucidating the effects of higher expression level of cystationione ?-synthase on methionine contents in transgenic Arabidopsis, soybean and tobacco seeds.

Cohen H, Hacham Y, Matityahu I, Amir R.
In Sulfur Metabolism in Higher Plants - Fundamental. Environmental and Agricultural Aspects. ,2017, De Kok, L.J., Haneklaus, S.H., Hawkesford, M.J. and Schnug Ed. ,E. Springer The Netherlands, Pages

The effects of herbicides targeting aromatic and branched chain amino acid biosynthesis support the presence of functional pathways in broomrape.

Dor E, Galili S, Snirnov E, Hacham Y, Amir R, Hershenhorn J.
Frontiers in Plant Science 2017 Volume 8 Pages 707

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

Transgenic tobacco plants having a higher level of methionine are more sensitive to oxidative stress.

Hacham Y, Matityahu I, Amir R.
Physiologia Plantarum 2017 Volume 160 Pages 242-252.

Repression of CYSTATHIONINE ?-SYNTHASE in Arabidopsis seeds recruits the S-methylmethionine cycle.

Cohen H, Hacham Y, Panizel I, Rogachev I, Aharoni A, Amir R.
Plant Physiology 2017 Volume 174 Pages 1322-1333

Differential effects of regular and controlled atmosphere storage on the quality of three cultivars of pomegranate (Punica granatum L.)

Matityahu I, Marciano P, Holland D, Ben-Arie R, Amir R
Postharvest Biology and Technology 2016 Volume 115 Pages 132?141

Primary metabolic profiling of Egyptian broomrape (Phelipanche aegyptiaca) compared to its host tomato roots

Hacham Y, Dor E, Hershenhorn J, Amir R.
Journal of Plant Physiology 2016 Volume 205 Pages 11-19

Dose-dependent effects of higher methionine levels on the transcriptome and metabolome of transgenic Arabidopsis seeds

Cohen H, Amir R.
Plant Cell Reports 2016 Volume 36 Issue 5 Pages 719-730

The anti-proliferative and anti-androgenic activity of different pomegranate accessions.

Orgil O, Spector L, Holland D, Mahajna J, Amir R.
Journal of Functional Foods 2016 Volume 26 Pages 517?528

Genetic background and environmental conditions drive metabolic variation in wild type and transgenic soybean (Glycine max) seeds

Cohen H, Shir OM, Yu Y, Hou W, Sun S, Han T, Amir R.
Plant Cell and Environment 2016 Volume 39 Pages 1805-17