דוקטורנטים מספרים - Shai Shefer
Using green seaweed as a stimulant to improve crop yields
Supervisor: Prof. Alexander Golberg
Along with the Green Revolution, and its dramatic increase in world crop production, came the heavy use of fertilizers and pesticides—which is expected to increase together with the rising world population. These potent chemicals are highly effective in improving crop yields, however, their use causes grave environmental impacts. Among these are water, soil, and air pollution, as well as exposure to toxic substances which may be harmful or even lethal to non-target species and human health. Biostimulants - natural materials that enhance plant nutrition and growth, and positively affect abiotic and biotic stress tolerance - may serve as excellent substitutes for these toxic chemicals.
My name is Shai Shefer. I did my MSc at the Laboratory of Environmental Bioengineering at the Porter School and I am now continuing as PhD student in the same lab under the supervision of Prof. Alex Golberg. The main research focus of our lab is on local seaweed biorefinery methods. In my previous study, I showed how to enhance selective breeding of seaweed by using NIR spectroscopic methods. Following this, in my current research, I am attempting to demonstrate the importance of seaweed as a source for agricultural bioactive materials that can contribute to the improvement of global food security.
Seaweed extracts are innocuous biostimulants that have been used since ancient times and are proven to be effective stimulators of growth and resistance to stress in plants. The principal aim of my study is to investigate the unique properties of the local Ulva green seaweed's usefulness in biostimulation and as a safer alternative to strong fertilizers. I intend to examine the potential of Ulva extracts extraction to accelerate growth and to function as abiotic stress resistance in seeds and plants of different crops.
This research could potentially reduce the need for harmful agrochemicals, thus mitigating their negative environmental impacts.