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Mailing Address:
The Robert H. Smith Institute of
Plant Sciences and Genetics
in Agriculture
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Administrator: Neomi Maimon 
Tel: 972-8-948-9251,
Fax: 972-8-948-9899,
E-mail: neomim@savion.huji.ac.il

Director: Prof. David Weiss
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Publications

2019
Dadon, A. ; Mandelmilch, M. ; Ben-Dor, E. ; Sheffer, E. Sequential PCA-based classification of mediterranean forest plants using airborne hyperspectral remote sensing. Remote Sensing 2019, 11. Publisher's VersionAbstract
In recent years, hyperspectral remote sensing (HRS) has become common practice for remote analyses of the physiognomy and composition of forests. Supervised classification is often used for this purpose, but demands intensive sampling and analyses, whereas unsupervised classification often requires information retrieval out of the large HRS datasets, thereby not realizing the full potential of the technology. An improved principal component analysis-based classification (PCABC) scheme is presented and intended to provide accurate and sequential image-based unsupervised classification of Mediterranean forest species. In this study, unsupervised classification and reduction of data size are performed simultaneously by applying binary sequential thresholding to principal components, each time on a spatially reduced subscene that includes the entire spectral range. The methodology was tested on HRS data acquired by the airborne AisaFENIX HRS sensor over a Mediterranean forest in Mount Horshan, Israel. A comprehensive field-validation survey was performed, sampling 257 randomly selected individual plants. The PCABC provided highly improved results compared to the traditional unsupervised classification methodologies, reaching an overall accuracy of 91%. The presented approach may contribute to improved monitoring, management, and conservation of Mediterranean and similar forests. © 2019 by the authors.
Dovrat, G. ; Sheffer, E. Symbiotic dinitrogen fixation is seasonal and strongly regulated in water-limited environments. New Phytologist 2019, 221, 1866-1877. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Plants, especially perennials, growing in drylands and seasonally dry ecosystems are uniquely adapted to dry conditions. Legume shrubs and trees, capable of symbiotic dinitrogen (N 2 ) fixation, often dominate in drylands. However, the strategies that allow symbiotic fixation in these ecosystems, and their influence on the nitrogen cycle, are largely unresolved. We evaluated the climatic, biogeochemical and ontogenetic factors influencing nitrogen fixation in an abundant Mediterranean legume shrub, Calicotome villosa. We measured nodulation, fixation rate, nitrogen allocation and soil biogeochemistry in three field sites over a full year. A controlled experiment evaluated differences in plant regulation of fixation as a function of soil nutrient availability and seedling and adult developmental stages. We found a strong seasonal pattern, shifting between high fixation rates during the rainy season at flowering and seed-set times to almost none in the rainless season. Under controlled conditions, plants downregulated fixation in response to soil nitrogen availability, but this response was stronger in seedlings than in adult shrubs. Finally, we did not find elevated soil nitrogen under N 2 -fixing shrubs. We conclude that seasonal nitrogen fixation, regulation of fixation, and nitrogen conservation are key adaptations influencing the dominance of dryland legumes in the community, with broader consequences on the ecosystem nitrogen cycle. © 2018 The Authors. New Phytologist © 2018 New Phytologist Trust
2018
Dovrat, G. ; Masci, T. ; Bakhshian, H. ; Mayzlish Gati, E. ; Golan, S. ; Sheffer, E. Drought-adapted plants dramatically downregulate dinitrogen fixation: Evidences from Mediterranean legume shrubs. Journal of Ecology 2018, 106, 1534-1544. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Abstract The importance of symbiotic dinitrogen (N2) fixation in shaping the coupled nitrogen–carbon cycle is now known for most humid terrestrial ecosystems. However, whether N2 fixation can play a key role in the nitrogen and carbon budget of water-limited and seasonally dry ecosystems remains a mystery. The maintenance of metabolically and physiologically costly symbiotic fixation in water-limited environments is highly complex. These costs are particularly high during the first developmental season, when allocation to deep rooting and drought resistance mechanisms is essential for seedling survival of prolonged seasonal drought. We, therefore, evaluated how drought-adapted legume species change their allocation to symbiotic nitrogen fixation as a function of soil nitrogen availability. We tested this on seedlings of a suite of four common Mediterranean legume shrubs with a strong seasonal behaviour, which we grew under controlled nitrogen and phosphorus availabilities. We asked: (1) Do species differ in their investment and regulation of nitrogen fixation? (2) Is fixation regulated via plant allocation to nodules, fixation rate or both? and (3) Does phosphorus availability limit symbiotic nitrogen fixation? All Mediterranean perennial legumes in the experiment established and grew, nodulated, and fixed nitrogen, even under severe nitrogen limitation. The four species reacted similarly to nitrogen supply, by strongly downregulating fixation through both decreased nodulation and lower rate of fixation. However, we found a significant interspecific difference in fixation (both nodulation and rate), biomass production and growth rate. Our experimental species presented a range of fixation investment strategies corresponding to life-history and resource partitioning patterns. Phosphorus limitation had a minor influence on both fixation and plant growth. Synthesis. The high physiological cost of symbiotic fixation imposes the need to tightly regulate fixation in perennial legumes coping with severe water stress. Control of fixation allows legume species to colonize recently disturbed nitrogen-deficient habitats, cope with grazing, survive long seasonal droughts and recover nitrogen fixation later in the wet season, and survive over time by reducing nitrogen inputs to the ecosystem.
2017
Tarnita, C. E. ; Bonachela, J. A. ; Sheffer, E. ; Guyton, J. A. ; Coverdale, T. C. ; Long, R. A. ; Pringle, R. M. A theoretical foundation for multi-scale regular vegetation patterns. 2017, 541, 398 - 401. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Empirically validated mathematical models show that a combination of intraspecific competition between subterranean social-insect colonies and scale-dependent feedbacks between plants can explain the spatially periodic vegetation patterns observed in many landscapes, such as the Namib Desert ‘fairy circles’.