ARO - Agricultural Research Organization (Israel)

Agricultural Research Organization (ARO) - www.agri.gov.il - the research arm of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Israel, is responsible for most of the agricultural research in the country aimed to improve existing agricultural production systems and to introduce new products, processes and equipment. The ARO has an extensive infrastructure that supports both basic and applied research conducted by more than 500 researchers, engineers and technicians organized into six institutes located in the main campus (the Volcani Center) at Bet Dagan, and two regional centres in the north and south of the country. In this project the ARO is represented by a multidisciplinary team comprising researchers and staff members from the following three units: The Institute of Postharvest and Food Sciences is staffed by 72 employees including 22 PhD-level researchers.

The Institute is fully equipped for investigating fresh and processed foods and has 40 controlled-environment storage rooms, laboratories and pilot facilities for handling fresh and processed food products. In particular, the fresh-cut pilot facility is built according to the industrial standards, comprising low- and high-risk zones, sterile air supply and equipment for cutting, washing, dewatering and MA-packaging of minimally-processed fruits and vegetables. The institute comprises a microbiological food safety laboratory, a facility for sensory analysis and analytical instruments, e.g. HPLC systems with a range of detectors, several GC Instruments, GC-MS system, spectrophotometers, plate readers and access to interinstitutional analytical and microscopy facilities of the ARO.

The Institute of Agricultural Engineering conducts application-oriented and R&D projects on a wide range of subjects, such as production management, harvest and post-harvest systems, greenhouse technologies and environmental control, soil disinfestation and chemical application systems. In particular, research in the Dept of Sensing, Information and Mechanization Engineering is focused on cutting-edge technologies with increasing emphasis on information technologies and decision-support systems, electronics and control, and advanced mechanics, robotics and optics. All these activities lead towards environmentally friendly, precise and profitable agriculture. The institute includes fullyequipped industrial workshop facilities and highly-qualified staff for manufacturing prototype pieces of novel unique
agricultural and processing machines and equipment.

The Section of Cucurbits and Molecular Genetics at the Northern ARO’s Newe Ya’ar research centre is focused on genetics of melon and other cucurbits. Major topics include fruit ripening, genetic mapping and the assessment of genetic variability of these crops. The genomic study is directed towards the discovery of genes that control fruit quality traits and disease resistance, with a main goal of applying these genes for fruit quality improvement, through breeding and genetic modifications. The Section possesses a large melon germlasm collection and sees maintenance, enlargement and study of this collection as one of its priority tasks.

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