Prof. Ilana Berman Frank

Director of the Leon H. Charney School of Marine Sciences since 2018.

Research at our laboratory is dedicated to understanding how global changes and environmental stressors influence the organisms forming the base of the aquatic food-webs, at local to the global scales, from Lake Kinneret to the Mediterranean and Red Seas, to the South Pacific Ocean. Other research projects at the laboratory are relevant to the local marine environments of the eastern Mediterranean Sea, and include examining the impacts of discharges from the rapidly expanding

desalination industries on coastal populations; and determining carbon export to depth via the first deep-water tethered mooring in the Levantine basin of the eastern Mediterranean Sea (DEEPLEV).

I am currently co/coordinating (with Erich Achterberg – GEOMAR)-  the Helmholtz International Laboratory –  “The Eastern Mediterranean Sea as a model for Future Ocean Research (EMS FORE)” a 5 year project comprised of a core group of 17 scientists and ~ 10 graduate students from the University of Haifa and GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel (Germany). The overarching aim of this project is to utilize the eastern Mediterranean Sea, from coastal to deep ocean, as a natural laboratory to gain mechanistic and quantitative understanding of biogeochemical and ecosystem transitions of a future (sub)tropical ocean (covering 40% of global ocean) affected by global warming and other anthropogenic pressures. 

Dr. Neta Holland,
Lab manager

As IBF's lab manager my job is to help students in their research projects, establish new experimental systems, and maintain the lab as a very efficient research facility.

My current personal research project examines issues related to the morphological transformations from single filaments to colonies, in the globally important diazotrophic cyanobacterium Trichodesmium.

Trichodesmium erythraeum IMS101:

 Colonies in culture

Trichodesmium erythraeum IMS101:

3D video of filaments,

 taken in a Light Sheet microscope

(N. Holland, unpublished)

Tal Ben Ezra,
PhD student

Co-supervisor: Prof. Michael Krom, Morris Kahn Research Station, Dept. of Marine Biology, Charney School of Marine Sciences.
Research title: A Deeper Understanding of the Biological Drivers of Nutrient Cycling in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea and its Implications on Primary Productivity

In my Ph.D. work, I aim to assess the seasonality of nutrient limitation for different phytoplankton taxa in the eastern Mediterranean Sea and to develop new methods to evaluate the community composition and activity in regard to their chemical environment. This will allow quantification of the autotrophic activity of the system and the effect of the changing climate and pollution on these crucial populations.

Seasonal nutrient dynamics in the P depleted Eastern Mediterranean Sea

Alon Blachinsky,
MSc student

Co-supervisor: Prof. Michael Krom, Morris Kahn Research Station, Dept. of Marine Biology, Charney School of Marine Sciences.
Research title: Seasonal pattern of inorganic and organic nitrogen uptake by phytoplankton in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea

In the ultra-oligotrophic Eastern Mediterranean Sea (EMS), dissolved organic nitrogen (DON) may be critical for sustaining primary productivity, particularly during nitrate and ammonium depleted periods. Urea is part of the DON pool and a known bioavailable organic form of nitrogen.

My project is to determine urea’s relative potential availability and in-situ uptake rates compared with ammonium and nitrate, during contrasting seasons of nitrate repletion and depletion in the EMS. 

Seasonal patterns of inorganic and organic nitrogen uptake by phytoplankton in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea

Tslil Bar,
PhD student

The contribution of primary production to export flux in the Southeastern Mediterranean Sea

The ocean plays a critical role in global carbon cycling, contains 60 times the amount of carbon held in the atmosphere, and is essential in mitigating climate change.

The Eastern Mediterranean Sea (EMS) is one of the most impacted oligotrophic (nutrient poor) regions. Primary production in the oligotrophic EMS is one of the lowest in the world. Little is known about carbon export in the southeastern Mediterranean Sea. In Nov 2016 a mooring equipped with sensors and sediment traps was deployed 50 Kms west of Haifa to examine carbon export in this area. As part of this large project the goals of my PhD were:

 1) To determine and characterize the annual primary and bacterial productivity in the station. As part of this characterization I also evaluated the use of different flow cytometers in quantifying picophytoplankton populations.

2) To investigate how much carbon is recycled or exported from this primary productivity

3) To evaluate the contribution of DOC to carbon cycling in this station.

The contribution of primary production to export flux in the Southeastern Mediterranean Sea

Iris Preiss,
PhD student

Co-supervisor: Prof. Gil Rilov, Dept. of Marine Biology Charney school of Marine Sciences and Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research.
Research title: Risk Assessment of the Alien Sea Urchin Diadema setosum Invasion to the Warming Mediterranean Israeli Rocky Reef: Abundance, Temperature, Vulnerability and Ecological Impacts 

I’m studying the recent invasion of the sea urchin, Diadema setosum, to the Mediterranean Israeli Rocky Reef. The research is focused on monitoring its currently abundance, examining its vulnerability to the seawater temperature conditions, and considering the implications of this invasion on the ecosystem of the Israeli rocky reefs.

Etai Landou,
PhD student

Co-supervisor: Prof. Boaz Lazar Fredy and Nadine Herrmann Institute of Earth Sciences,  Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Israel
Research title: Spatial and temporal dynamics of Nitrogen transformations in the Gulf of Aqaba (Eilat)

I study different aspects of the biogeochemistry of nitrogen in the oligotrophic ocean.

I use the unique oceanographic characteristics of the Gulf of Aqaba as  a natural laboratory for simulating processes in the oligotrophic.

My research focuses on:

  1. Contribution of N2  fixation to new production during winter mixing and summer stratification.
  2. Nitrogen sources and sinks in the northern Gulf of Aqaba using 15N field measurements.
  3. Marker genes assessment of Trichodesmium diversity.

My work involved field experiments (many hours offshore), followed by laboratory work including stable isotopes analysis, the use of advanced molecular techniques, and bioinformatics.

Contribution of photic and aphotic N2 fixation to production in an oligotrophic sea.

Contribution of photic and aphotic N2 fixation to production in an oligotrophic sea

Metagenomes of Red Sea subpopulations challenge the use of morphology and marker genes to assess Trichodesmium diversity.

Maya Shimoni,
MSc student

Co-supervisor: Yoav Lehahn, Dept. of Marine Geosciences, Charney School of Marine Sciences
Research title: Phytoplankton Communities in Jellyfish Patches in the EMS

I am researching phytoplankton population dynamics from within jellyfish blooms compared to the open ocean in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea (EMS), to discover if there are significant differences. To achieve this, I will collect continuous data directly from Jellyfish blooms using a flow cytometer called  CytoSub, which both counts species abundance and images phytoplankton communities. Spatial data will eventually be mapped out and compared with remote data taken from satellites and drones.

Merav Gilboa,
PhD student

 co-supervisors : Dr. Tamar Guy-Haim and Dr. Ayah Lazar (Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research Ltd.)
Research Title: Cyclonic and anticyclonic eddies as habitats for zooplankton in the Southeastern Mediterranean Sea

Ocean eddies affect climate by transporting and mixing heat, carbon, and nutrients. Cyclonic eddies in the Northern Hemisphere have a counterclockwise rotation with a slow vertical upwelling flow, while anticyclonic eddies rotate clockwise with a vertical downwelling flow. Eddies in the Southeastern Mediterranean Sea have lifetimes that affect plankton communities and allow for detection of changes in composition.
My research will characterize the variability, physicochemical attributes, and biology of eddies using a multidisciplinary approach, including satellite data, research vessels, autonomous gliders, and camera-based vision profiler, to better understand their ecological impact and how they can potentially support sensitive species or facilitate the arrival of alien species.

Tom Reich,
PhD student

Co-supervisor: Dr. Eyal Rahav, Research Limnological & Oceanographic Israel (IOLR)
Research title: The Role of Dark Bicarbonate Fixation in Oligotrophic Regimes; The SE Mediterranean and Red Seas as Case Studies

My research in the field of biological oceanography deals with primary production in the ocean. Specifically, carbon fixation that is not mitigated through photosynthesis by photoautotrophs, but by chemoautotrophs via alternative metabolic processes. My study sites concentrate on low nutrient low chlorophyll areas such as the East Mediterranean and the North Red Sea.

Ronen Alkalay,
PhD student

Co Supervisors: Prof. Yishai Weinstein- Faculty of Geography and Environment, Bar Ilan University and Dr. Timor Katz- Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research.
Research Title: Particulate carbon export in the Levantine Basin (East Mediterranean Sea)

In my research I study organic C export production and its efficiency, as well as changes in the particulate carbon (C), nitrogen (N), and phosphorus (P) within the twilight zone and the dark ocean of the ultra-oligotrophic warm deep Levantine Basin of the eastern Mediterranean Sea.

Deep-Sea Research Part II

Dr. Dina Spungin : lab manager 2018-2021

Dr. Hila Elifantz : lab manager 2013-2018


Past students and Post-doctoral Fellows:

Alex Wajnerman, MSc 2022,
“Colony formation in Trichodesmium facilitates the maintanance of key physiological processes under nutrient limitation”

Ynon Deutsch, PhD 2022,
“Algal endophytes as biological control agents against pathogens and pests in aquaculture”

Yael Tzubari, PhD 2020,
“Colony formation in Trichodesmium

Dina Spungin, PhD 2018,
“Programmed Cell death pathways in Trichodesmium 

Nurit Amitai, MSc 2018,
“Effects of Antiscalants from Seawater Desalination Discharges on Coastal Bacterial and Phytoplanktonic Communities of the Eastern Mediterranean Sea”

Liel Magnezi, MSc 2018,
Trichodesmium bloom formation”

Dan Miller, PhD 2018,
“Assessing the physiological and compositional response of coastal microbial populations to increased pCO2 and to eutrophication”

Natasha Belkin, PhD 2016,
“Impacts of seawater desalination discharges on coastal bacterial and phytoplanktonic communities”

Reut Sorek Abramovich, PhD. Post-doc fellow, 2015,
“Toxins in Trichodesmium”

Adi Levi, PhD 2015,
“Applying innovative nano-technology approaches to reduce biofilm development on membrane and surfaces in the desalination industry”

Eyal Rahav, PhD 2013,
“Controls on dinitrogen fixation in the eastern Mediterranean”

Edo Bar Zeev, PhD 2012,
“TEP and biofilm formation; MSc 2007, Nitrogen fixation in aquatic symbiotic associations”

Itamar Avishai, MSc 2012,
“Programmed cell death in Trichodesmium

Sara Ohaion, MSc 2012,
“Molecular diagnostics of controls on N2 fixation”

Ben Brinberg, MSc 2013,
“Microbial ecology of subterranean estuaries of Mediterranean coastline”

Tali Yogev, PhD 2009,
“Nitrogen fixation in the eastern Mediterranean”

Orly Levitan, PhD 2010,
“Impacts of CO2 on aquatic dinitrogen fixation; MSc 2005, Influence of CO2 on aquatic nitrogen fixation”

Eric Ben David, Post-doc fellow 2010, 
“Programmed cell death in Trichodesmium

Tamar Bsor-Rachamim, PhD 2010,
“Nutrient recycling by zooplankton in Lake Kinneret”

Max Rubin, MSc 2009,
“Fe uptake in Trichodesmium”

Sammy Frenk, MSc 2008,
“Ammonium supply for optimal growth of juvenile and mature thalli of Porphyra rosengurtii (Rhodophyta)”

Gad Rosenberg, MSc 2007,
“Programmed cell death in Trichodesmium

Dovi Kelman, Post-doc fellow 2007,
“Natural products from Trichodesmium

Chen Sherman, MSc 2006,
“Effect of varying pH on Trichodesmium