Zahir Ali

Research Scientists

Research Scientist



Research Interests

Zahir Ali is interested in developing tools for plant genome engineering, using specifically the CRISPR/Cas system. He is also exploring the potential of plants to be used as bio-factories for the production of various bio products and drugs of therapeutic importance. 

Selected Publications

  • Fusion of the Cas9 endonuclease and the VirD2 relaxase facilitates homology-directed repair for precise genome engineering in rice, Zahir Ali1, et al, Communication Biology, 2020.
  • RNA virus interference via CRISPR/Cas13a system in plants, Rashid Aman*, Zahir Ali*, Haroon Butt*et al, Genome Biology, 2019.
  • CRISPR/Cas9-mediated viral interference in plants, Zahir Ali et al, Genome biology, 2015.
  • Efficient Virus-Mediated Genome Editing in Plants using the CRISPR/Cas9 System, Zahir Ali et al, Molecular Plant, 2015.


  • PhD, Plant Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, Gyeongsang National University, South Korea
  • MS, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, Pakistan
  • Bcc, University of Peshawar, Pakistan

Professional Profile

  • 2018-present: Research Scientist, KAUST, Thuwal, Saudi Arabia 
  • 2013-2018: Postdoctoral fellow, KAUST, Thuwal, Saudi Arabia
  • 2003-2007: Lecturer, Department of Biotechnology, University of Malakand, Pakistan

Scientific and Professional Membership

  • American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB) 


  • Outstanding Project Award 2011, Brain Korea 21 Program
  • World Class University grant for Research Scientist (South Korea)
  • Brain Korea 21, PhD Scholarship 2007-2012 (South Korea)

Research Interests Keywords

CRISPR/Cas system plant genome engineering virus resistance synthetic biology