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Magdy M. Mahfouz

Associate Professor, Plant Science

Research Interests

Professor Mahfouz's research interests are focused on developing genome-engineering technologies for basic biology and biotechnology. Advances in genome engineering technologies provide a new level of control over genetic information and promise to advance basic and applied research by linking DNA sequences to biological functions.  We are developing site-specific nucleases (SSNs) to enable targeted genome modification by generating site-specific genomic breaks. The repair of the genomic breaks can be harnessed to produce DNA sequence alterations with applications ranging from producing crops with improved traits to treating genetic diseases. We are developing two genome-editing platforms namely CRISPR/Cas9 and TALENs for applications across plant species and other eukaryotes. Further, we are studying the basis of epigenetic adaptation to biotic and abiotic stress factors. Epigenetic variations provide a rich pool for selection of crops with improved traits. It is well known that plants can be primed by biotic and abiotic factors for improved pathogen resistance, stress tolerance and yield.  It is conceivable that the priming responses are dependent on long-term somatic memory. We are focusing on understanding the epigenetic basis that underlies the somatic and/ or transgenerational memory of biotic and abiotic stress adaptation. This knowledge could be used to select or engineer crop plants for improved agricultural traits.

Selected Publications

  • Li, L., A. Atef, A. Piatek, Z. Ali, M. Piatek, M. Aouida, A. Sharakuu, A. Mahjoub, G. Wang, S. Khan, N. V. Fedoroff, J. K. Zhu and M. M. Mahfouz (2013). "Characterization and DNA-Binding Specificities of Ralstonia TAL-Like Effectors." Mol Plant. (4):1318-30.

  • Dong Deng, Ping Yin, Chuangye Yan, Xiaojing Pan, Shiqian Qi, Tian Xie, Xinqi Gong, Magdy Mahfouz, Jian‐Kang Zhu, Nieng Yan and Yigong Shi (2012) Recognition of methylated DNA by TAL effectors. Cell Research 10:1502-4

  • 6

  • Dong Deng, Chuangye Yan, Xiaojing Pan, Magdy Mahfouz, Jiawei Wang, Jian‐Kang Zhu, Yigong Shi, and Nieng Yan (2012) Structural basis for sequence specific recognition of DNA by TAL effectors. Science 335: 720-3

  • Magdy M. Mahfouz, Lixin Li, Md. Shamimuzzaman, Anjar Wibowo, Xiaoyun Fang, and Jian‐Kang Zhu (2011) De novo‐engineered transcription activator‐like effector (TALE) hybrid nuclease with novel DNA binding specificity creates double‐strand breaks. Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences USA 108:2623‐262
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Education Profile

  • Ph.D. Molecular Genetics, The Ohio State University, Columbus Ohio, USA 2004
  • M.S. Microbial Genetics, Cairo University, Cairo Egypt, 1997

Professional Profile