Prof. Assaf Distelfeld

ביולוגיה מול.ואקול.צמחים סגל אקדמי בכיר
Prof. Assaf Distelfeld
Phone: 03-6406628
Fax: 03-6405765
Office: Institute for Cereal Crops Improvement, 205




Postdoctoral Fellow; Plant Sciences, University of California-Davis

2001-2006 Ph.D; Biology, University of Haifa
1999-2001 M.Sc..; Agriculture, Hebrew University
1994-1997 B.Sc.; Agriculture, Hebrew University


Academic Appointments:

2010-present Senior Lecturer; Molecular Biology & Ecology of Plants, Tel Aviv University
2004-2006 Instructor; Youth Activities, University of Haifa
2003-2004 Teaching Assistant; Evolutionary Biology, University of Haifa
1999-2001 Assistant Breeder; Vegetable Crops, ARO Neve-Yaar


Honors and Awards:

2007 Prize for outstanding graduate students; University of Haifa

Postdoctoral Fellowship; Israel-US Binational Agricultural Research and Development (BARD)

2001, 1998 Prize for outstanding graduate students; Hebrew University


Research Interests


We are currently leading a large collaborative effort aimed to assemble a high quality reference genome for wild emmer wheat (AABB genome). Go to our website here


The Distelfeld laboratory is focused on improving yield and quality of crop plants, especially wheat, with an emphasis on physiological processes that occur during plant senescence. We believe that an integrated system approach, combining physiological, genetic, genomic and transgenic tools, is required to dissect complex traits and reduce the gap between phenotype and genotype. Our approach is implemented by the combination of laboratory and field experiments.  Our specific research areas include:

  • Wheat genetics and genomics
  • Plant breeding
  • Gene-network controlling senescence in wheat senescence
  • Molecular mechanisms controlling grain yield in Wheat senescence
  • Flowering time in wheat


It is widely accepted that future agriculture will face the challenge of increasing productivity under limited resources. This will require the development of better yielding crops together with resistance to biotic and abiotic stresses. New genomic technologies offer a great potential to advance our understanding of plant physiological processes and accelerate the exploitation of beneficial traits from wild germplasm. 



Recent Publications

Maccaferri M, Ricci A, Salvi S, Milner SG, Noli E, Martelli PL, Casadio R, Akhunov E, Scalabrin S, Vendramin V, Ammar K, Blanco A, Desiderio F, Distelfeld A, Dubcovsky J, Fahima T, Faris J, Korol A, Massi A, Mastrangelo AM, Morgante M, Pozniak C, N'Diaye A, Xu S, Tuberosa R (2015) A high-density, SNP-based consensus map of tetraploid wheat as a bridge to integrate durum and bread wheat genomics and breeding. Plant Biotechnology Journal: 13: 648-663.


Avni R, Nave M, Eilam T, Sela H, Alekperov C, Peleg Z, Dvorak J, Korol A, Distelfeld A (2014) Ultra-dense genetic map of durum wheat × wild emmer wheat developed using the 90K iSelect SNP genotyping assay. Mol Breeding: 34: 1549-1562.


Avni R, Zhao R, Pearce S, Jun Y, Uauy C, Tabbita F, Fahima T, Slade A, Dubcovsky J, Distelfeld A (2014) Functional characterization of GPC-1 genes in hexaploid wheat. Planta 239: 313-324


Distelfeld A, Avni R, Fischer AM (2014) Senescence, nutrient remobilization, and yield in wheat and barley. Journal of Experimental Botany 65: 3783-3798


Nitcher R, Distelfeld A, Tan C, Yan L, Dubcovsky J (2013) Increased copy number at the HvFT1 locus is associated with accelerated flowering time in barley. Molecular Genetics and Genomics 288: 261-275


Distelfeld A, Pearce S, Avni R, Scherer B, Uauy C, Piston F, Slade A, Zhao R, Dubcovsky J (2012) Divergent functions of orthologous NAC transcription factors in wheat and rice. Plant Molecular Biology 78: 515-524


Distelfeld A, Dubcovsky J (2010) Characterization of the maintained vegetative phase deletions from diploid wheat and their effect on VRN2 and FT transcript levels. Molecular Genetics and Genomics 283: 223-232


Distelfeld A, Li C, Dubcovsky J (2009) Regulation of flowering in temperate cereals. Current Opinion in Plant Biology 12: 178-184


Dubcovsky J, Fu D, Uauy C, Distelfeld A, Blechl A, Fahima T (2009) A novel kinase-start gene conferring resistance to plant disease and transgenic plants comprising it.


Distelfeld A, Korol A, Dubcovsky J, Uauy C, Blake T, Fahima T (2008) Colinearity between the barley grain protein content (GPC) QTL on chromosome arm 6HS and the wheat Gpc-B1 region. Mol Breeding 22: 25-38


Distelfeld A, Cakmak I, Peleg Z, Ozturk L, Yazici AM, Budak H, Saranga Y, Fahima T (2007) Multiple QTL-effects of wheat Gpc-B1 locus on grain protein and micronutrient concentrations. Physiologia Plantarum 129: 635-643


Uauy C, Distelfeld A, Fahima T, Blechl A, Dubcovsky J (2006) A NAC Gene regulating senescence improves grain protein, zinc, and iron content in wheat. Science 314: 1298-1301


Tel Aviv University, P.O. Box 39040, Tel Aviv 6997801, Israel
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