Plant-Beneficial Microbe Interaction


Project Description

Abiotic stresses are the most important factors for hampering plant growth and yield world-wide. However, beneficial microbes can help plants to enhance stress tolerance of plants. DARWIN 21 is a large scale project to isolate and study the interaction how rhizophere microbes contribute to enhance the capacity of plants under the most difficult abiotic stress conditions ( this project, the student will characterize several rhizosphere microbes and investigate whether they can confer plant resistance to different abiotic stresses. The student will learn how to apply techniques in microbiology, molecular biology and plant biology.​​
Program - BioScience
Division - Biological and Environmental Sciences and Engineering
Center Affiliation - Center for Desert Agriculture
Field of Study - ​Microbiology, Genomics, Plant biology, Bioinformatics

About the

Heribert Hirt

Professor, Plant Science<br/>

Heribert Hirt

Hirt's research focuses on how plants can survive under abiotic or biotic stress conditions. At KAUST, he established two research lines. One research topic focuses on how MAP kinases target chromatin primes stress resistance at both the genetic and epigenetic level. The other research line searches for beneficial microbes and investigates their mechanisms to enhance stress tolerance in plants. When coming to the Middle East, Hirt launched the large-scale Darwin21 project to bioprospect various deserts in the world for beneficial microbes that can ultimately enhance crop production on underused arid lands by increasing heat and drought resistance or using irrigation with saline water.

Desired Project Deliverables

​Isolation and characterization of bacterial strains. Analysis of beneficial microbes on plant physiology. Sequencing and bioinformatics to analyze microbial genomes, transcriptome and proteome analysis of beneficial microbes and plants.