Prof. Asaph Aharoni's Lab


Asaph Aharoni is a full professor and heads the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. He earned his MSc at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and received his PhD degree from Wageningen University, The Netherlands. Asaph performed his postdoctoral studies at the Plant Research International institute in Wageningen. He was from the first to apply DNA microarrays for large-scale gene expression analysis as well as pioneering the field of Metabolomics for comprehensive profiling and non-targeted metabolite analysis. His research interests’ center on uncovering the molecular mechanisms underlying the production of plant secondary metabolites and the role of these molecules in plant interactions with other organisms. His lab combines cutting-edge metabolomics with molecular genetics, biochemistry and computational biology to study secondary metabolism in plant development and stress. Moreover, the Aharoni team engages routinely with complex metabolic engineering projects and generating innovative, commercial applications uses of plant natural products. He has been the former chair of the Israel Society of Mass Spectrometry and a member of the Israel Analytical Chemistry Society’s executive committee. Asaph serves on the editorial board of The Plant Journal, a leading journal in the Plant sciences and the Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) of the Max-Planck Institute for Molecular Plant Physiology in Golm, Germany. He served on the establishing Scientific Advisory Board of the Horticultural Biology and Metabolomics Centre (HBMC), Fuzhou, China.
Asaph has been the recipient of a number of awards, among them, the European Research Council (ERC) grant for both ‘starting’ (2007) and ‘advanced’ (2019) independent investigators and the Andre Deloro prize for to a scientist doing particularly exceptional work in his or her field awarded by the Weizmann institute. He also received the James Heineman Research Award for Biological and Biomedical Research, the Weizmann Institute Scientific Council Prize (Levinson Prize in Biology) and the Yigal Alon Fellowship award by the Council for Higher Education in Israel. Asaph recently received the American Society of Plant Biology 2020 ‘Enid MacRobbie Award’ for distinguished plant biologists outside the United States. To date, Asaph published more than 180 research papers and 30 book chapters as well as 30 patent applications. Five start-up companies providing a myriad of solutions for plant protection, generating natural pigments, nutritious crops and cow milk substitutions for the food sector as well as developing novel cannabinoids for the pharma industry, emerged from his lab work in the past several years.

Partner's Genome Editing vision​

The Aharoni lab employs genome editing for the study of metabolism in crops, model plants and under investigated exotic plants. Modification of metabolic pathways through editing of genes corresponding to enzymes in specific metabolic pathways and their regulators are primary targets in such experiments. Part of the research with edited plants is performed outdoors allowing a more authentic investigation of metabolite function in the plant life cycle.

Partner's activity within the consortium

The Aharoni lab takes part in generating editing events to provide high quality and ample editing sites to partners in the computational teams of the consortium. They work with tomato hairy root cultures for genome editing experiments that allow efficient generation of editing events which resembles the work with gene editing in whole plants.