Ben-Gurion University of the Negev


Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research

Mitrani Department of Desert Ecology








Photo by tsafrir abayov

Ariel Novoplansky



PhD 1990, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem



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 the press lab members 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 am trying 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. The premise is that an interdisciplinary and multi-hierarchical approach can advance our understanding of plant adaptation to changing environments.





Teaching Ecology of Phenotypic Plasticity in Evolution in Evolution Evolution



Lab members Omer Falik, Research Associate Mauda, MSc student Bogdanova, MSc student Levi, technician Vanunu, work-study student Goldstein, work-study student



Past lab members Jiahong, post-doc 1995-6 Kennedy Space Center, NASA, FL, USA Volin-Shilo, MSc 1999 Danino, MSc 1999 phengchun, MSc 2000 → Chinese Ministry of Environment Sher, post-doc 1998-2000 → University of Denver, CO, USA Lortie, PhD 2001 → York University, Toronto, Canada Acuna, MSc 2001 Falik, PhD 2002 Ariza, MSc 2003 → Univesity of Tübingen, Germany Guzner, MSc 2005 Raz, MSc 2005 Eliezer, MSc 2005 Wang, MSc 2006 Nyanumba, M.Sc. 2007 → University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada Al Joaba, Hebron, Palestine Gruntman, PhD 2011 → Univesity of Tübingen, Germany Shemesh, PhD 2012 → 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: 11401148.

Shemesh, H. and Novoplansky, A. (2012) Branching the risks: architectural plasticity and bet-hedging in Mediterranean annuals. 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 plasticity in plants: consequences of non-cognitive behavior, Sede-Boker, 1998 in Drylands: towards a unified framework and identification of research needs, Beer-Sheva, 1999 Evolution, conference on sympatric speciation and evolution of sex, 2005 and ecological aspects of responses to internal and environmental cues, XVII International Botanical Congress, Vienna, 2005 Evolution II, workshop on Evolutionary and Ecological Genomics, 2006 Evolution III, workshop on Human Evolutionary Genetics, 2007 of Desert Environments, 2007 Evolution IV, Unsolved Problems in Evolutionary Biology, 2008



In the press A short popular talk on plant communication and learning New York Times Michael Marder ponders about plant sentience Asaf Shtull-Trauring writes about plant communication, , 10, , , 48



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Updated, Mar 11, 2013