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Agriculture

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Sustainable Agriculture

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Agriculture

SPOTLIGHTS

Dr. Nadav Kashtan

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Agriculture
NEWS

Teaching the world how to make the desert bloom

At the Ramat Negev Agro-Research Center, acacia trees bloom, casting long shadows by the greenhouses, and fat pumpkins ripen on the ground. Everywhere you look, jewel-like cherry tomatoes dangle above the sand, on vines strung to wires, carefully irrigated and nourished. While tiny tomatoes have been around for centuries, certain varieties of cherry tomatoes – including the popular tomaccio – were developed in Israel back in the 1970s. Here they grow in abundance, as do sweet peppers of all colors – yellow, green, red, chocolaty-brown, and purple. The Ramat Negev Regional Council oversees this center, and agricultural experiments are conducted by onsite researchers as well as by scientists from Ben-Gurion University, the agriculture faculty of the Hebrew University, the Volcani Center, and elsewhere, in consultation with the Israeli Extension Service. It is a hotbed of innovation and discovery. “People come here from all over the world to study how we grow things in the desert and how to fight against the desert’s continuing conquest of their land,” Gadi Grinblat explains. It was here that scientists determined the importance, when irrigating with brackish water, of directing the water underneath the plant, so that it goes directly to the roots and doesn’t touch the upper parts. Otherwise, the salt in the water will harm the plants’ sensitive green leaves. Like most Israeli agricultural endeavors, the Agro-Research Center makes use of the drip-irrigation system, which was developed by the country’s Netafim company – the headquarters of which are also located in the Negev, at Kibbutz Hatzerim. Like the Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research, the Ramat Negev Agro-Research Center is happy to spread the word about its findings with the rest of the world. Israel’s MASHAV (Agency for International Development Cooperation) helps to make that happen through its agricultural/outreach arm, CINADCO (Center for International Agricultural Development Cooperation), and with the scientific research capabilities of the Volcani Center. Israeli agro-scientists are regularly sent out to demonstrate their findings, in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Central Europe, and the Middle East – and farmers and scientists from abroad are brought into Israel to study and share their knowledge as well. Not surprisingly, the focus is on Israel’s areas of expertise: growing food in semi-arid and arid zones, combating “desertification,” irrigation and water management, dairy farming, and strategies for the small farmer. The goals are vast and vital: to ensure food security and economic self-sufficiency. Lin Arison & Diana C. Stoll are the creators of The Desert and the Cities Sing: Discovering Today’s Israel, a treasure box that highlights Israel’s creative achievement and innovation.Read the source article at ISRAEL21c
Agriculture
NEWS

New peptide could help fight drug-resistant...

STORY: Drug-resistant superbugs are one of the biggest challenges to global health. Naturally-occuring antimicrobial peptides could be the key to fighting against these bacterial infections. Israeli researchers have synthesized the chains of amino acids. And they've found that they are best sequenced in a random mix. SOUNDBITE (English) SENIOR LECTURER AT THE INSTITUTE OF FOOD SCIENCE, NUTRITION AT THE FACULTY OF AGRICULTURE IN THE HEBREW UNIVERSITY OF JERUSALEM, DOCTOR ZVI HAYOUKA, SAYING: "There are many, many, many antimicrobial peptides that were discovered and isolated from many, many organisms and what we have noticed that there is no consensus sequence or consensus structure for this kind of motif." The team from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem found the peptides are very effective at stopping bacteria like superbug MRSA from growing. SOUNDBITE (English) SENIOR LECTURER AT THE INSTITUTE OF FOOD SCIENCE, NUTRITION AT THE FACULTY OF AGRICULTURE IN THE HEBREW UNIVERSITY OF JERUSALEM, DOCTOR ZVI HAYOUKA, SAYING: "When we exposed the bacteria to this kind of compound we can see that they have very good activity and they can inhibit the growth of bacteria very very easily of gram negative, of gram positive and also for superbugs that are really a huge threat in hospitals and many other indication." The peptides developed by the researchers are especially useful because their antimicrobial action works on all kinds of bacteria, regardless of their cell structure. SOUNDBITE (English) SENIOR LECTURER AT THE INSTITUTE OF FOOD SCIENCE, NUTRITION AT THE FACULTY OF AGRICULTURE IN THE HEBREW UNIVERSITY OF JERUSALEM, DOCTOR ZVI HAYOUKA, SAYING: "All the bacteria are divided for two main groups, the gram positive and gram negative that are different in their structure and what we observe that our compound can eradicate both of them very very easily." For now the researchers are testing their peptide compound on mice. They hope to begin clinical trials in the near future.Read the source article at uk.reuters.com
Alumni

SPOTLIGHTS

Seth M. Siegel

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Agriculture
NEWS

Aquaculture Innovation Helps Increase World Food Supply

A new way to grow larger fish and feed the expanding world population earns Professor Berta Levavi-Sivan a 2017 Kaye Innovation Award June 27, 2017 — As the world faces a projected population increase from today’s 7.5 billion people to 9 billion people by 2050, the demand for sustainable food sources is on the rise. The answer to this looming dilemma may well reside within the booming field of aquaculture. While wild fisheries have been on the decline for the last 20 years, aquaculture, or fish farming, is the fastest growing food-producing sector in the world and will play an increasingly vital role in our planet’s food resources in the years to come.One of the challenges to aquaculture is that reproduction, as an energy intensive endeavor, makes fish grow more slowly. To solve this problem, Professor Berta Levavi-Sivan at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem identified tiny molecules named Neurokinin B (NKB) and Neurokinin F (NKF) that are secreted by the fish’s brains and play a crucial role in their reproduction. Professor Levavi-Sivan, a specialist in aquaculture at the Hebrew University’s Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment, then developed molecules that neutralize the effect of NKB and NKF.  The molecules inhibited fish reproduction and consequently led to increased growth rates.Better Fish Growth, More Aquaculture Jobs These inhibitors can now be included in fish feed to ensure better growth rates.  For example, young tilapia fed the inhibitors in their food supply for two months gained 25% more weight versus fish that did not receive the supplement. So far, NKB has been found in 20 different species of fish, indicating that this discovery could be effective in a wide variety of species.The technology developed by Professor Levavi-Sivan and her team was licensed by Yissum, the Technology Transfer company of the Hebrew University, to start-up AquiNovo Ltd., established and operating within the framework of The Trendlines Group. AquiNovo is further developing the technology to generate growth enhancers for farmed fish. As the aquaculture industry obtains the tools to flourish, an increase in jobs is likely to follow. In Europe, aquaculture accounts for about 20% of fish production and directly employs some 85,000 people. The sector mainly benefits those living in coastal and rural areas, where jobs are most needed.2017 Kaye innovation Award In recognition of her work, Professor Berta Levavi-Sivan was awarded the Kaye Innovation Award for 2017.The Kaye Innovation Awards at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have been awarded annually since 1994. Isaac Kaye of England, a prominent industrialist in the pharmaceutical industry, established the awards to encourage faculty, staff and students of the Hebrew University to develop innovative methods and inventions with good commercial potential, which will benefit the university and society. For more information about the 2017 Kaye Innovations Awards, visit http://bit.ly/kaye2017.Professor Berta Levavi-Sivan earned her B.S. degree in life science and her M.S. and Ph.D. in zoology from Tel Aviv University.  At the Hebrew University’s Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment, where her work focuses on fish reproduction and growth, she has published over 100 articles in referred journals and has won several prizes for her findings. As a specialist in aquaculture, she has worked extensively in Uganda to combat depleted fish supplies in Lake Victoria.