November 2021

Dr. Gilad Gabay

Getting To the Roots Improving Wheat Resilience to Climatic Changes

Gilad Gabay

U C Davis

Dr. Gilad Gabay is studying the root effect on drought resistance at the UC davis department of plant science

What is the main focus of your Postdoc work?

My main focus is to decipher the genetic mechanism that controls root development in wheat. These findings can lead to the improvement of wheat resilience to climatic stressors such as heat and drought.  

What got you interested in wheat genetics and wheat breeding? 

Wheat is the most widely grown crop in the world and therefore the impact of discovering new genes can have a significant impact. Wheat genetics and genomics is relatively complicated due to the polyploid genome, which makes the genetic research in wheat very challenging. However, wheat genomic resources have been highly advanced lately. In addition, a significant progress was achieved in wheat functional genomics recently. Many of this scientific contribution has been made by my host lab at the university of California, Davis (Prof. Jorge Dubcovsky).    

What was the most challenging aspect of working on understanding drought tolerance?

My research focuses on the root effect on drought resistance. Examining root traits is very challenging since they are hidden under the soil. However, we develop a method to characterize root traits in hydroponic system which has a high correlation to what we see in the field.   

How did the Covid-19 quarantines impact your research?

At first it was hard to adjust, as it is in every big change. The major challenge was to work while our children were not in school, but we enjoyed spending that time with them at home. Working with plants, or any living organism, requires nonstop work to maintain their growth in good conditions. Later, I was able to focus more on my research. We were lucky to live and work in a place that people are very responsible, so we were able to go back to work with some modifications.  

What tip would you give someone just beginning a career in agricultural research? 

My tip would be not to be afraid of making mistakes. Try to prepare as much as you can before any new experiment but also allow your self the time to learn. Another aspect is to choose the lab that you work in based on your passion and your goals. Whether you are more academy oriented, or industry oriented there is a variety of labs that can offer you to experience in both aspects.