Ben-Gurion University of the Negev


Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research

Mitrani Department of Desert Ecology





      Photo by Arthur Fuhrer

Ariel Novoplansky






Tel  972-8-6596820 | Fax 972-8-6596821   



Evolutionary ecology of plants phenotypic plasticity development morphogenesis learning competition eco-devo signal perception ecological interactions competition communication behavior evolution environmental information community ecology biodiversity conservation





Lab members

In the press

Selected publications

Past lab members



Prospective students






The focus of my work is the evolutionary ecology of developmental plasticity in plants. Developmental plasticity can be defined as the ability to execute morphogenetical decisions based on perceived information. Developmental plasticity plays a major role in the adaptation of both animals and plants to heterogeneous environments and is thought to be of particular importance in plants because of their limited motility. In my research I aim to bridge the gulf between physiological, ecological and evolutionary approaches. Though the emphasis of my research is on adaptations and behaviors of individual plants, I am also studying the consequences of developmental plasticity at higher organizational levels.






Evolutionary Ecology of Phenotypic Plasticity

Projects in Evolution

Tutorial in Evolution

Camp Evolution



Lab members


Dr Omer Falik, Research Associate

Dr Michal Meir, Post-doc fellow

Shachar Mauda, MSc student

Tatiana Bogdanova, MSc student



Past lab members


Li Jiahong, post-doc 1995-6

Hagit Volin-Shilo, MSc 1999

Ayelet Danino, MSc 1999

Zhang phengchun → Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences, Beijing, China

Anna Sher, post-doc 1998-2000 → University of Denver, CO, USA

Chris Lortie, PhD 2001 → York University, Toronto, Canada

Tania Acuna, MSc 2001

Omer Falik, PhD 2002

Clara Ariza, MSc 2003

Barak Guzner, MSc 2005

Asaf Raz, MSc 2005

Efrat Eliezer, MSc 2005

Yafei Wang, MSc 2006

Samson Nyanumba, MSc 2007 → University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada

Jennie McLaren, PhD 2010 (UBC) → Biological Sciences, University of Texas at El Paso, USA

Michal Gruntman, PhD 2011 → Univesity of Tübingen, Germany

Osama Al Joaba, MSc

Hagai Shemesh, PhD 2011 Tel-Hai College, Israel




Selected publications


Novoplansky, A., D. Cohen and T. Sachs (1989) Ecological implications of correlative inhibition between plant shoots. Physiologia Plantarum 77: 136-140.

Novoplansky, A., D. Cohen and T. Sachs (1990) How Portulaca  seedlings avoid their neighbours. Oecologia (Berlin) 82: 490-493.

Novoplansky, A., T. Sachs, D. Cohen, R. Bar, J. Budenheimer and R. Reisfeld (1990) Increasing plant productivity by changing the solar spectrum. Solar Energy Materials 21: 17-23.

Novoplansky, A. (1991) Developmental responses of Portulaca seedlings to conflicting spectral signals, Oecologia 88: 138-40.

Novoplansky, A., D. Cohen and T. Sachs (1994) Responses of an annual plant to temporal changes in light environment: an interplay between plasticity and determination, Oikos 69: 437-446.

Sachs, T. and A. Novoplansky (1995) Tree form: architecture models do not suffice. Israel Journal of Plant Sciences 43:203-212.

Novoplansky, A., (1996) Hierarchy among potentially similar buds in two-shoot plants. Plant Cell and Environment 19: 781-786.

Novoplansky, A. (1996) Developmental responses of individual Onobrychis plants to spatial heterogeneity, Vegetatio 127: 31-39.

Goldberg,  D. and A. Novoplansky (1997) On the relative importance of competition in unproductive environments. Journal of Ecology 85: 409-418.

Sachs, T. and A. Novoplansky (1997) What does aclonal organization suggest concerning clonal plants? in de Kroon, H. and J. van Groenendael (eds.) The Ecology and Evolution of Clonal Growth in Plants, pp. 55-78, SPB Academic Publishing, Leiden, The Netherlands.

Novoplansky, A. and D. Cohen (1997) The mutual distribution of competing root systems: a stationary model, in A. Altman and Y. Waisel (eds.), Biology of Root formation and Development, pp. 353-364, Plenum, New-York, N.Y.

Feuermann, D. and A. Novoplansky (1998) Reversible low heat gain windows for energy savings.  Solar Energy Journal 62(3): 169-175.

Novoplansky, A. and D. Goldberg (2001), Effects of water pulsing on individual performance and competition hierarchies in plants.  Journal of Vegetation Science 12: 199-208. PDF

Novoplansky, A. (2002) Phenotypic plasticity in plants: Implications of non-cognitive behavior. Evolutionary Ecology 16(3): 177-188. PDF

Falik, O., P. Raides, M. Gersani, and A. Novoplansky (2003) Self/nonself discrimination in roots, Journal of Ecology 91: 525-531. PDF

Elli Groner and Ariel Novoplansky (2003) Reconsidering diversity-productivity relationships in plants and animals: trophic levels matter, Ecology Letters 6: 695-699. PDF

Novoplansky, A. (2003) Ecological implications of the determination of branch hierarchies, New Phytologist 160: 111-118. PDF

Sher, A., Goldberg, D., Novoplansky, A. (2004) The effect of mean and variance in resource supply on survival of annuals from Mediterranean and desert environments. Oecologia 141: 353-362. PDF

Chesson, P., Gebauer, R. L. E., Sher, A., Schwinning, S., Wiegand, K., Ernest, M. S. K., Huntly, N., Novoplansky, A., and Weltzin, J. F. (2004) Resource pulses, species interactions and diversity maintenance in arid and semi-arid environments, Oecologia 141: 236-253. PDF

Gruntman, M. and Novoplansky, A. (2004) Physiologically-mediated self/nonself discrimination in roots, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 101: 3863-3867. PDF

Shilo-Volin, H., A. Novoplansky, D. Goldberg and R. Turkington (2005) Density regulation in annual plant communities under variable resource levels, Oikos 108: 241-252. PDF

Falik, O., Reides, P., Gersani, M. and Novoplansky, A. (2005) Root navigation by self inhibition, Plant Cell & Environment 28: 562-569. PDF

Lortie, C. J., Ellis, E., Novoplansky, A. and Turkington, R. (2005) Implications of spatial pattern of local density on community-level interactions, Oikos 109: 495-502. PDF

Herben, T. and Novoplansky, A. (2008) Implications of self/nonself discrimination for spatial patterning of clonal plants, Evolutionary Ecology, 22: 331-350.

Novoplansky, A. (2009) Picking battles wisely: plant behaviour under competition. Plant, cell & environment 32: 726-41.

Shemesh, H., Arbiv, A., Gersani, M., Ovadia, O. and Novoplansky, A. (2010) The Effects of Nutrient Dynamics on Root Patch Choice. PLoS ONE 5(5): e10824.

Herben, T. and Novoplansky, A. (2010) Fight or flight: plastic behavior under self-generated heterogeneity, Evolutionary Ecology 24: 1521-1536.

Gruntman, M. and Novoplansky, A. (2011) Implications of local-scale productivity on compensative regeneration in a semi-arid grassland, Journal of Arid Environments, 75: 279-283.

Shemesh, H. Rosen, R. Tunes, G., Novoplansky, A. and Ovadia, O. (2011) The effect of steepness of temporal resource gradients on spatial root allocation. Plant Signaling and behavior 6: 1356-1360.

Gruntman, M. Shirata, C. and Novoplansky, A. (2011) Plasticity in apical dominance and damage tolerance under variable resource availability in Medicago truncatula. Plant Ecology 212: 1537-1548.

Shemesh H., Ovadia O. and Novoplansky, A. Context-dependent responses to herbivore saliva. (2011), Plant Ecology 213: 167-174. 

Gruntman, M. and Novoplansky, A. (2011) Ontogenetic contingency of tolerance mechanisms in response to apical damage. Annals of Botany 108: 965-973.

Falik, O., Mordoch, Y., Quansah, L., Fait, A. and Novoplansky, A. (2011) Rumor has it...: relay communication of stress cues in plants, PLoS ONE, e23625   DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0023625.

Falik, O., Mordoch, Y., Ben-Natan, D., Vanunu, M., Goldstein, O. and Ariel Novoplansky (2012) Plant responsiveness to root-root communication of stress cues, Annals of Botany, 110: 271-80.

Arbiv, A., Khokhlova, I.S., Ovadia, O., Novoplansky, A. and Krasnov, B.R. (2012) Use it or lose it: reproductive implications of ecological specialization in a haematophagous ectoparasite, Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 25: 1140–1148.

Shemesh, H. and Novoplansky, A. Branching the risks: architectural plasticity in the face of environmental uncertainty. Plant Biology, In press.



Prospective students


Students interested in pursuing questions related to phenotypic plasticity, communication, behavior, learning and memory in plants are welcome to contact us for more details.



Conferences & workshops


Phenotypic plasticity in plants: consequences of non-cognitive behavior, Sede-Boker, 1998

Biodiversity in Drylands: towards a unified framework and identification of research needs, 1999

Camp Evolution, conference on sympatric speciation and evolution of sex, 2005

Physiological and ecological aspects of responses to internal and environmental cues, XVII International Botanical Congress, Vienna, 2005

Camp Evolution II, workshop on Evolutionary and Ecological Genomics, 2006

Camp Evolution III, workshop on Human Evolutionary Genetics, 2007

Evolution of Desert Environments, 2007

Camp Evolution IV, Unsolved Problems in Evolutionary Biology, 2008



In the press


TEDxJaffa  A short popular talk on plant communication and learning

The New York Times Michael Marder ponders about plant sentience

Haaretz Asaf Shtull-Trauring writes about plant communication

כלכליסט, אורן הוברמן, על חושים בצמחים

ערוץ 10, לונדון וקירשנבאום, על תקשורת בצמחים, החל מדקה 48



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Updated, Nov 23, 2014