2015 Laureates of Emet Prize
In Category: Life Sciences
In Field: Agriculture
Prof. Dani Zamir was born in Jerusalem, Israel in 1950. He earned a B.Sc. degree in Agronomy from the Hebrew University and a Ph.D. degree in Genetics from the University of California in Davis. In 1982 he joined the Faculty of Agriculture of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem where he serves as a full professor.
Since receiving his Ph.D., his research has been focused on the use of natural biodiversity for the genetic improvement of crops. Using “catsup tomatoes” as a model, he and his student Yuval Eshed constructed a population of cultivated tomato lines that carry a single chromosome segment from the drought and salinity tolerant green-fruited wild tomato species. These breakthrough introgression lines enabled his doctoral student Eyal Fridman to be the first to identify a gene responsible for a complex trait (QTL) in nature. To demonstrate the power of wild species, his lab collaborated with tomato breeders to develop the processing tomato hybrid, AB2, which, due to its higher yield and sugar composition, was a leading variety world-wide. He and his student Uri Krieger were the first to demonstrate a single gene that governs yield heterosis in plants. The concepts and methods he developed for tomato improvement are now being implemented in genetic and breeding research of a variety of crop species that are important for global food security.
In 2003 Zamir initiated and led the International SOL Genome Project composed of scientists from more than 20 countries who sequenced the entire DNA of tomato, potato, pepper, coffee and other agricultural products. He holds advisory appointments in several universities and research institutes and was an adjunct professor at Cornell University (U.S.) and Seoul University (Korea). He has published more than 150-refereed papers and founded three companies involved in various aspects of plant breeding. He was awarded the Kaye Innovation Prize by the Hebrew University in 2007.