My name is Assaf Distelfeld, and I am a plant geneticist. I graduated from the University of Haifa in 2006 with a PhD in Biology, did a postdoc at UCDavis for 4 years and then served as a professor at Tel Aviv University for 10 years.

Currently I am the director of the Institute of Evolution at the University of Haifa.

My research is focused on improving the yield and quality of crop plants by using genome editing technologies and by exploring the natural germplasm, especially wild emmer wheat. My laboratory uses an integrated approach including genetic, genomic and transgenic tools that are implemented through a combination of laboratory and field experiments.

For example, in 2017 we published the first wheat genome sequence and identified two genes responsible for the domestication of wheat. Every wheat plant in the world carries the same variants of these genes and we were able to track their source back to Northern Israel. Such genomic knowledge is instrumental in the development of better yielding crops with improved resistance to biotic and abiotic stresses.

In another project, we are working to create fava beans with improved digestibility and enriched beta-carotene content.

I hope that these superior beans will be an alternative-meat source that is environmental-friendly and more nutritious than meat.