F2 flower types and colors
basil diversity panel

Basil, Ocimum basilicum L., also known as “King of Herbs”, is a lead crop across the world. My group, together with Prof. Nativ Dudai and the Unit of Aromatic and Medicinal Plants, lead the world genomic research in this species. We are using genomic and genetic tools to address breeding needs and to answer biological questions. We use two main genetic tools for sequencing-based mapping:

  • A bi-parental population (currently in the F3 stage) derived from a cross between “Genovese” type basil and “Thai” basil. We are using this population to map: 

  • Basil aroma chemotype. Genovese and Thai basils have rich aromas that significantly differ one from the other. While the chemistry contributing to these aromas is well-known, it is not clear what genetic differences had brought about these two unique chemotypes. Using QTL mapping and transcriptomic analysis, we are trying to solve this riddle. 

  • Fusarium resistance.  The unit of Aromatic and Medicinal Plants in Newe-Ya’ar was a pioneer in developing fusarium resistance cultivars and showed an inheritance model of a single dominant gene. Yet, the underlying mechanism is unknown and using QTL mapping, we are moving forward to answer this question. 

  • Chilling tolerance. Basil is extremely sensitive to chilling injuries, both pre- and post-harvest. Thai basil varieties are more tolerant to chilling, and we are trying to map this trait to assist breeding and product improvement. 

  • Flower pigmentation. Why is your basil so green? Using the basil genome and this mapping population we are close to resolving this trait down to the causative mutations.

 

  • A germplasm collection representing a diversity panel of sweet basils from around the world. We use this panel to map: 

  • Basil aroma volatiles. In basil, if the aroma is not correct, you got nothing from your exclusive breeding programs. The presence of an undesired volatile can spoil the entire breeding effort. Using this core-collection, we will create a genetic roadmap for breeding, ensuring no unwanted aromas to co-migrate with the desired traits. 

  • Downy mildew resistance. We have noticed a certain degree of tolerance to BDM in our collection and using the basil genome it is closer than ever to start breed for this important trait.