Professor of Plant Science | Principal Investigator of the Darwin21 Lab
For thirty years, Hirt has studied how plants can adapt to abiotic or biotic stress conditions. At KAUST, he launched the Darwin21 project to bioprospect various hot deserts for beneficial microbes that can ultimately enhance plant survival and growth on hyperarid lands by increasing heat, drought and salt resistance. Hirt hypothesizes that with better understanding of desertification and plant-soil-biome ecosystem it is possible to revert hyperarid lands into functional ecosystems. His key research area is the study of desert soil, plants and microbes and their use in establishing natural sustainable systems in land restoration, landscaping and agriculture, without relying on chemicals or pesticides.