B. Agriculture and Biotechnology for
    Sustainable Dryland Development

B.1  Plants in Hostile Environments (2 credits)
Lectures Exercise Laboratory Field Trip

This course concentrates on some of the mechanisms which allow plants to sustain stress conditions such as anaerobiosis, heavy metal toxicity, insects, herbicides, free radicals (oxygen toxicity) and water shortage and particularly extreme desert conditio ns such as salinity, drought and high and low temperatures. Desert plants have developed the ability to grow, produce and propagate under extreme conditions while plants from moderate environments fail to do so. The course will include examples of how to engineer plants to cope with extreme conditions. 

Lecturers: Y. M. Heimer and A. Nejidat

Recommended Reading: 
Sachs, Martin M. and Ho, Tuan-Hua, D. (1986). Alteration of Gene Expression During Environmental Stress in Plants. Ann. Rev. Plant Physiol. 37: 363-376. 
Chandler, Peter M. and M. Robertson (1994). Gene Expression Regulation by Abscisic Acid and its Relation to Stress Tolerance. Ann. Rev. Plant Physiol. 45: 113-131. 

B.2  Adaptation Strategies of Plants in Changing Environmental Conditions (2 credits)  
Lectures Exercise Laboratory Field Trip

This course covers: root/shoot coordination; root and shoot signals and logistics; metabolic and molecular adaptation to environmental conditions; nitrogen assimilation under stress; the changing paths of carbon assimilate allocation; reproductive vs. veg etative growth priority. 

Lecturer: H. Lips.  

Recommended Reading: 
Lam, H.L., K.T. Coschigano, I.C. Oliveira, R. Melo-Oliveira and G.M. Coruzzi (1996). The Molecular Genetics of Nitrogen Assimilation into Amino Acids in Higher Plants. Annual Review of Plant Physiology and Molecular Biology, 47:569-593. 
Ferl, R.J. (1996). 14-3-3 Proteins and Signal Transduction. Annual Review of Plant Physiology and Molecular Biology, 47:49-74. 
Chollet, R., J. Vidal and M.H. O'Leary (1996). Phosphoenolpyruvate Carboxylase: A Ubiquitous, Highly Regulated Enzyme in Plants. Annual Review of Plant Physiology and Molecular Biology, 47:273-298. 

B.3  The Physical Environment of Soils and Plants (3 credits)
Lectures Exercise Laboratory Field Trip
2     2

This course focuses on modern views of basic soil-water definitions: water content; bulk density; field capacity; wilting point; soil-water potential; air entry value (its role in soilless culture irrigation); soil texture; soil physical properties; infil tration, redistribution and drainage; soil-water availability to plants; radiative environment of the plant; basic laws that govern the transport of fluxes in the atmospheric boundary layer; sensible and latent heat fluxes; mass and energy balances; appro ximate energy balances. 

Lecturer: J. Ben-Asher.

Recommended Reading: 
Hillel, D. (1985). Soil Physics. Academic Press. 

B.4  Runoff Agroforestry Systems (3 credits) 
Lectures Exercise Laboratory Field Trip
2 1   1

The main topics for this course include: 

  • Water infiltration into soils; runoff generation; soil crusting and its effects on runoff production; water harvesting schemes. 
  • Radiation balances of forest and Runoff Agroforestry Systems (RAS); sensible and latent heat fluxes from the different components of RAS. 
  • Soil water uptake patterns of RAS; effect of water availability and climate on RAS. 
  • Evapotranspiration and estimates of bulk stomatal resistance. 
  • Biomass production of RAS and effects of density and intercrop on total above ground productivity. 
  • Water use efficiency of RAS. 
Lecturer: P. Berliner. 

Recommended Reading: 
Brutsaert, W.H. (1982). Evaporation into the Atmosphere. D. Reidel. 
Mitchell, C.P., J.B. Ford Robertson, T. Hinckley and L. Sennerby-Forsse, Editors (1992). Ecophysiology of Short Rotation Forest Crops. Elsevier Applied Science. 
Pereira, J.S. and J.J. Landsberg (1989). Biomass Production by Fast Growing Trees. Kluwer Academic Publishers. 
Sumner, M.E. and B.A. Stewart (1992). Soil Crusting, Chemical and Physical Processes. Lewis Publishers. 
Tauer W. and G. Humborg (1992). Runoff Irrigation in the Sahel Zone. Verlag J. Margraf. 

B.5  Modeling Agricultural Systems and Physiological Considerations Under Stress Conditions (3 credits)
Lectures Exercise Laboratory Field Trip
2 2    

This course focuses on: 

  • Photosynthesis and stress conditions: the three main processes of photosynthesis; the effects of water stress on photosynthesis; the effects of high and low temperatures on photosynthesis; stomatal and non-stomatal effects on photosynthesis and other effects on photosynthesis (leaf age, CO2 concentration). 
  • Water relations in plants: leaf water potential; measuring leaf water potential; water stress and plant growth. 
  • Principles in agricultural systems modeling: definition of a model, system, variables and parameters; the use of models in agriculture; description of cotton and soybean models; defining the problem; defining the system, parameters and variables; d escription of the model; running the models; sensitivity analysis; calibration and verification of the models. 
Lecturer: J. E. Ephrath. 

Recommended Reading: 
Nielsen, Z. (Ed.) (1996). Physiology of Plants under Stress: Abiotic Factors. 
Goudrian, J. (1977). Crop Meteorology: A Simulation Study. Pudoc, Wageningen. 
Ephrath, J. E., J. Goudrian and A. Marani (1996). Modeling Diurnal Patterns, Air Temperature, Radiation, Wind Speed and Relative Humidity by Equations from Daily Characteristics. Agricultural Systems 51:377-393. 

B.6  A Mechanistic Approach to Plant Nutrition (3 credits)
Lectures Exercise Laboratory Field Trip
2   2  

This course presents an analytical view of soil fertility and plant nutrient uptake with a special reference to plant nutrition under saline conditions: root anatomy and morphology; mechanisms of ion uptake by roots; ion interaction and salinity; nutrient supply by the soil; the rhizosphere; modeling of nutrient uptake from soil; nutrient uptake under water and salinity stress; a demonstration of the Barber-Cushman model. 

Lecturer: M. Silberbush

Recommended Reading: 
Barber, S.A. (1994). Soil Nutrient Bioavailability. A Mechanistic Approach. Second Edition. J. Wiley & sons, Inc. New York. 
Rendig, V.V. and H.M. Taylor (1989). Principles of Soil-Plant Interrelationships. McGraw-Hill, New York. 
Waisel, Y., A. Eshel, and U. Kafkafi (Eds.) (1996). Plant Roots: The Hidden Half (2nd Edition). Marcel Dekker, Inc. New York. 

B.7  The Role of the Membrane in the Adaptation of the Plant Cell to Stress Conditions (3 credits) 
Lectures Exercise Laboratory Field Trip
2   2 1

Lectures focus on the central role of various plant membranes in the functioning of the plant cell under stress conditions and include the following subjects: ATPase and ion pumping; organic solute transport; plant hormones; signal transduction during sal t stress; and adaptation to salinity at the cellular level. 

Lecturer: M. Guy. 

Recommended Reading: Bohnert, H.J., D.E. Nelson and R.G. Jensen (1995). Adaptations to Environmental Stresses. Plant Cell 7:1099-1111. 
Serrano, R. (1996). Salt Tolerance in Plants and Microorganisms: Toxicity Targets and Defense Responses. Int. Rev. Cytol. 165:1-52. 

B.8  Principles of Irrigation Technology and Management (2 credit)

Lectures Exercise Laboratory Field Trip
2     1

The main topics for the course include:

  • Water Potential. Energy and potential of groundwater. Potential of physically bound water. Osmotic potential. Water movement in soil. Saturated and unsaturated condition.
  • Water uptake by root.
  • Evapotranspiration (ET). Transpiration from leaves. ET measurement. Evaporation from water surface. Soil evaporation. Crop coefficient curve. Irrigation management according to ET.
  • Water condition in soil. Saturation, field capacity and wilting point. Irrigation management according to water condition in soil.
  • Crop water use and dry matter production. Growth rate vs. ET. Modeling limited water use and crop growth. Growth rate vs. water use. Relative yield vs. ET.
  • Crop yield production function vs. water quality and quantity. Field samples and model.
  • Irrigation Techniques: sprinkler irrigation, water distribution uniformity, trickle irrigation
  • Irrigation under saline conditions.

Lecturer: Raya Vulkan

Recommended reading:
Hillel D. (1980). Fundamental of Soil Physics. Academic Press, INC. (London) LTD.
Hillel D. (1980). Application of Soil Physics. Academic Press, INC. (London) LTD.
Benami, A. and A. Ofen (1993). Irrigation engineering.
Feddes R.A., R.W.R Koopmans and J.C. Van Dam. (1999). Agrohydrology. Wageningen University, Department of Wate Resources.
Hansen V.E., O.W. Israelsen and G.H. Stringham(1980). Irrigation Principles and Practices. 4th addition. John Wiley and Sons.

B.9  Tissue Culture of Desert Plants (2 credits)
Lectures Exercise Laboratory Field Trip
1   4  

Cell and Tissue Culture is the science of cultivating living cells or tissues in controlled environments. It is a tool which has found numerous applications, including the study of plant morphogenesis and physiology; clonal propagation; genetic engineerin g; the production of secondary metabolites. 

Plant Tissue Culture will be presented in a series of lectures and labs. The history of tissue culture, theory and applications in research and commerce will be discussed. Particular emphasis will be placed on applied aspects, especially micropropagation.

An underlying philosophy of this course is that the application of tissue culture technology, coupled with more conventional approaches to vegetative propagation, can facilitate rapid advances in agricultural production which can be implemented with limited resources in developing countries. 

Lecturer: E. Birnbaum.

Recommended Reading: 
Vasil, I.K. and T.A. Thorpe (Eds.) (1994). Plant Cell and Tissue Culture, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht. 

B.10  Biotechnology in Desert Plant Development and Bioactive Compound Production (3 credits)  
Lectures Exercise Laboratory Field Trip

This course focuses on: potential applications of protein and enzyme biotechnology; ethnobotanical background of desert plants used for medicine, food, cosmetics and other purposes; desert plant-derived natural products with biological activity; proteins , alkaloids, flavonoids, isoprenoids and others in relation to their biological activities; biosynthesis and metabolism of secondary metabolites in plants; analytical and industrial methods for extraction and identification of natural products. 

Lecturer: A. Golan.

Recommended Reading: 
Ikan, R. (1991). Natural Products. Academic Press Inc., Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Publishers, San Diego, New York, Boston, p. 360. 
Franks, F. (1993). Protein Biotechnology. The Humana Press Inc. USA p. 592. 
Kinghorn, A.D. and M.F. Balandin (1993). Human Medicinal Agents from Plants. American Chemical Society, Washington, DC, p. 365. 

B.11  The Introduction of New Industrial Crops in the Desert (3 credits)  

Prerequisites: Course/s in plant physiology and/or plant ecology. 
Lectures Exercise Laboratory Field Trip
2 semester paper   2

  • Introduction: general principles and steps in adapting new crops and wild plants for cultivation. Specific desert environmental factors such as water sources, temperature and radiation regimes will be emphasized. 
  • Principles of marginal water use (brackish and effluent) in agriculture. 
  • Current situation in the commercialization of several new industrial crops: research achievements, research needs, extent of commercialization, projected economic benefits. 

Lecturers: A. Benzioni and D. Mills. 

Recommended Reading: 
Whitworth, W.J. and E.E. Whitehead (1991). Guayule Natural Rubber. Guayule Administrative Committee and USDA Research Service. 
Benzioni, A. (1995). Jojoba Domestication and Commercialization in Israel. Horticultural Reviews. J. Janick (Ed.). Portland, Oregon. John Wiley & Sons Inc. 17:233-266. 
Janick J. and J.A. Simon (1991). Proc. of the 2nd National Symposium New Crops Exploration, Research and Commercialization. John Wiley & Sons Inc. 

B.12  Animal Husbandry of Desert Herbivores (2 credits)  

Prerequisites: Animal Physiology; Lab Methods in Animal Physiology. 
Lectures Exercise Laboratory Field Trip

This course focuses on strategies adapted by sheep and goats (small ruminants), camels (pseudo-ruminants) and ostriches (ratites) that allow them to survive under adverse conditions. In particular, energy and water constraints will be examined. Seasonal p asture changes in availability, nutritive value and water content will be discussed in connection with seasonal energy and water requirements of the herbivore. The seasonal changes in the physiological state of the herbivore will be included. Anti-nutriti onal secondary compounds present in plants and their effect on plant consumption by the grazing herbivore will be evaluated. In addition, differences between foregut and hindgut fermentors in the utilization and digestion of good and poor quality forage w ill be discussed. 

Lecturer: A.A. Degen.

Recommended Reading: 
Degen, A.A., M. Kams A. Rosenstrauch and L. Plavnik (1991). Growth Rate, Total Body Water Volume, Dry-matter Intake and Water Consumption of Domesticated Ostriches (Struthio camelus). Animal Production 52:225-232. 
Robbins, C.T. (l993). Wildlife Feeding and Nutrition. Academic Press, New York. 
Van Soest (1982). Nutritional Ecology of the Ruminant. O & B Books, Corvallis, Oregon. 

B.13  Cacti as Desert Crops (2 credits) 
Lectures Exercise Laboratory Field Trip
2     1

This course deals with the desert plant family Cactaceae and the potential of introducing cacti as a plant crop in the desert. The main topics to be covered are: biological characterization of cacti (physiology and metabolism), cacti as animal feed, cacti as vegetables and fruits and cacti as industrial crops. The future prospects of cacti in low and high input systems will be discussed. 

Lecturers: Y. Mizrahi and A. Nerd.

Recommended Reading: 
Gibson, A.G. and P.S. Nobel 1987. The Cactus Primer. Harvard University Press. Cambridge, MA USA. 
Nobel, P.S. 1994. Remarkable Agavas and Cacti. Oxford University Press. New York. 
Mizrahi, Y., A. Nerd and P.S. Nobel (1996). Cacti as crops. Hort. Rev. 18:291-320. 

B.14  Microalgal Biotechnology (Course No. 205-1-3811, in Life Science department)
      (2 credits) 

Lectures Exercise Laboratory Field Trip

  • The biological and technological challenge involved in algal production for commercial purposes. 
  • Principles for mass cultivation of microalgae: interactions between radiation, cell density and turbulence; oxygen as an indicator for culture condition; maintenance of pH, optimal cell density and mono-algal cultures. 
  • Technological aspects involved in microalgal production: various types of reactors: open and closed systems; turbulence and flow; separation, drying and marketing; simple technologies for algal production. 
  • Species of commercial value: Spirulina, Dunaliella, Haematococcus. 
  • Algae as source of chemicals: energy, polysaccharides, PUFA's, pigments; applications, sources, content and production; effects of environmental conditions, biochemical and genetic changes; selection of species. 
  • Algae in ecological systems: restraining expansion of dunes; algae in waste-water treatment; blooming of algae in water reservoirs; toxins release. 
  • Application of nitrogen-fixing cyanobacteria as biological fertilizer; metabolic routes and physiological aspects of biological fertilization, development of the biotechnology for the production of biological fertilizers in developing countries. 
  • Cyanobacteria as vectors for combating mosquito born diseases; cloning of Bti toxin genes. 
  • Genetic engineering as a tool in developing "new algae". 

Lecturer: S. Boussiba.

Recommended Reading: 
Richmond, A. (Ed.) (1986). Handbook of Microalgal Mass Culture. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL. 
Shelef, G. and C.J. Soeder (Eds.) (1980). Algae Biomass: Production and Use. Elsevier-North Holland. 
Bryant, D.A. (ED.) (1994). The Molecular Biology of Cyanobacteria. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht. 

B.15. Introduction to Desert Aquaculture ( 3 credits) 

Lectures Exercise Laboratory Field Trip
2 (1 semester) 2 3 1

As the demand to aquaculture products are rising while world fishers is in decline, aquaculture has been a fast growing industry in the last few decades and is yet to expand. In the present course practical aspects and theoretical background of major topics in fish culture, with emphasis on desert aquaculture, will be studies.

This is an introductory course that is geared for students with interest in aquaculture.

  • Introduction to aquaculture; the history and development of aquaculture; ecological, economical, sociological and human health aspects.
  • Fish anatomy, physiological and life cycle (+ lab).
  • Aquaculture technologies: extensive vs. intensive aquaculture, cage culture and intensive aquaculture plants (+ field trip).
  • Fish nutrition: principals, food composition, types of fish feeds.
  • Water quality for fish culture (chemistry, pH, dissolved oxygen, nutrients, toxins and microbes) (+ lab).
  • Fish diseases and health maintenance in aquaculture (+ lab).
  • Environmental concerns and management practices to minimize environmental harm by aquaculture.
  • Aquaculture in the Negev and Arava desert.
Lecturers and coordinators: D. Zilberg and A Gross.

Recommended Reading: Provided during the course.