SwitzerlandCountry of destination:
The aim of my project is to better understand the domestication of the olive tree in order to facilitate association mapping studies. I will first infer the demographic history with a Bayesian approach of this crop using genetic data (RNA-seq and microsatellites) and secondly I will detect the genes that were under selection during the domestication process.
Interested in both archaeology and biology, I have always tried to combine these two topics in my research projects. During my PhD (2009-2012), I worked at the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement jointly with the Centre de Bio-Archéologie et d’Ecologie, both in Montpellier, France. The objective of my work was to understand the evolutionary history and biogeography of the date palm (Phoenix dactylifera L.) using a complementary approach of seed morphometrics applied to both current and archaeological samples and genetics.
After my PhD, I joined the group of Daniel Wegmann at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland (2013-2014) where I infered the past history of the date palm using a large genomic data set that we generated.
During my stay at Montpellier SupAgro, in the framework of my AgreenSkills fellowship, I worked on the genomic changes associated with olive domestication both in term of changes in protein coding genes and in gene expression. I am now a senior research scientist leading the date palm genome project at New York University Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates.
Gros-Balthazard, M., Galimberti, M., Kousathanas, A., et al., 2017. The Discovery of Wild Date Palms in Oman Reveals a Complex Domestication History Involving Centers in the Middle East and Africa. Current Biology, 27 (14), 2211. Doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2017.06.045.
Gros-Balthazard, M., Newton, C., Ivorra, S., Pierre, MH., Pintaud, JC., Terral, JF, 2016. The Domestication Syndrome in Phoenix dactylifera Seeds: Toward the Identification of Wild Date Palm Populations. Plos One, 11 (3), e0152394. Doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0152394.
Zehdi-Azouzi, S., Cherif, E., Moussouni, S., Gros-Balthazard, M., et al., 2015. Genetic structure of the date palm (Phoenix dactylifera) in the Old World reveals a strong differentiation between eastern and western populations (vol 116, pg 101, 2015). Annals of Botany, 116 (5), 847-847.
Zehdi-Azouzi, S., Cherif, E., Moussouni, S., Gros-Balthazard, M., et al., 2015. Genetic structure of the date palm (Phoenix dactylifera) in the Old World reveals a strong differentiation between eastern and western populations. Annals of Botany, 116 (1), 101-112.
Gros-Balthazard, M, 2013. Hybridization in the genus Phoenix: A review. Emirates Journal of Food & Agriculture, 25 (11), 831-842.
Winner of Khalifa International Award for Date Palm and Agricultural Innovation 2018 in the category Distinguished Innovative Studies and Modern Technology.