Institute for Cereal Crops Improvement
Chair: Prof. Amir Sharon
Office: 535 Britannia Building
The ICCI was established in 1970 with the goal of preserving the variety of wild grasses relatives of cereals crop plants, which have evolved and grown in Israel and the surrounding region. During the course of domestication, many genes were not transferred to cultivated plants. Therefore, wild plants represent a rich source of beneficial traits, such as genes that can protect plants from pathogens or harsh environments. Such traits are now badly needed for production of disease and stress-resistant varieties. The original mission of the ICCI has been to preserve the genetic richness found in local populations of wheat and barley-related species. This mission has been fulfilled by establishment of the The Harold and Adele Lieberman germplasm bank at the ICCI. The collection includes over 18,000 live specimens that have been collected all over Israel, forming the world's largest and species-richest collection of wild cereals.
The mission of the ICCI for the first half of the 21st century is to harness the wild germ plasm for production of improved wheat varieties. Our first goal is to establish a pipeline for identification and transferring of traits from wild plants into wheat. On the way to achieving this goal, current work at ICCI centers on cataloging and mapping of beneficial traits in wheat-related wild plants, and on transferring of specific traits, primarily disease and stress resistance, into wheat.
The ICCI was established by late professor Whal with the aid of the Lieberman family from St. Paul MN. The ICCI has been supported all these years by the Lieberman Okinow Endowment with additional financial support from the Lieberman family.