Maged Saad

Research Scientists

Senior Research Scientist



Research Interests

Being a molecular biologist, I have developed a deep interest in the adaption of microbes to their hosts. In particular, I am fascinated by the dual lifestyle of different bacteria and their mechanisms to interact with plants and modulate the plant immune system. I believe that research on microbes in basic as well applied context for sure is bearing a great potential to generate benefit to humanity in resolving upcoming challenges in fields such as medicine and agriculture, and I am working at my best to contribute a share to this aims.

Doing state-of-the-art fundamental research on microbes in context with agriculture, I aim to generate and communicate highly novel knowledge that will in the ideal case allow immediate translation into successful practical applications. That will help to tackle challenges such as sustaining food security for a growing world population in times of climate change both locally and globally. 

Selected Publications

  • Saad MM, Eida AA, Hirt H. 2020. Tailoring Plant-Associated Microbial Inoculants in Agriculture - A Roadmap for Successful Application. Journal of Experimental Botany, eraa111.
  • Eida AA, Bougouffa S, Alam I, Hirt H, Saad MM. 2020. Complete Genome Sequence of Paenibacillus sp. JZ16, a Plant Growth Promoting Root Endophytic Bacterium of the Desert Halophyte Zygophyllum Simplex. Current Microbiology, 10.1007/s00284-00020-01908-00285.
  • Eida AA, Bougouffa S, Alam I, Saad MM, Hirt H. 2020. Complete genome sequence of the endophytic bacterium Cellulosimicrobium sp. JZ28 isolated from the root endosphere of the perennial desert tussock grass Panicum turgidum. Archives of Microbiology.
  • Eida AA, Bougouffa S, L’Haridon F, Alam I, Weisskopf L, Bajic VB, Saad MM, Hirt H. 2020. Genome Insights of the Plant-Growth Promoting Bacterium Cronobacter muytjensii JZ38 With Volatile-Mediated Antagonistic Activity Against Phytophthora infestans. Frontiers in Microbiology 11.
  • Abdelaziz M., Abdelsatar ⁠M⁠, Abdeldaym E, Atia ⁠M, Mahmoud A, Saad MM, Hirt H (2019). Piriformospora indica alters Na⁠+/K⁠+ homeostasis, antioxidant enzymes and LeNHX1 expression of greenhouse tomato grow under salt stress. Scientia Horticulturae 256,
  • Bokhari A., Essack M., Lafi F., Andres-Barrao C., Jalal R., Alamoudi S., Razali R., Alzubaidy H., Shah K., Siddique S., Bajic V., Hirt H, Saad MM (2019). Bioprospecting desert plant Bacillus endophytic strains for their potential to enhance plant stress tolerance. Scientific Report. 18154. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-54685-y.
  • Saad MM, Michalet S, Fossou R, Putnik-Delic M, Crevecoeur M, Meyer J, de Malezieux C, Hopfgartner G, Maksimovic I, Perret X (2018). Loss of NifQ Leads to Accumulation of Porphyrins and Altered Metal-Homeostasis in Nitrogen-Fixing Symbioses. Mol Plant Microbe Interact: MPMI07180188R. doi:10.1094/MPMI-07-18-0188-R
  • de Zelicourt A, Synek L, Saad MM, Alzubaidy H, Jalal R, Xie Y, Andres-Barrao C, Rolli E, Guerard F, Mariappan KG, Daur I, Colcombet J, Benhamed M, Depaepe T, Van Der Straeten D, Hirt H (2018). Ethylene induced plant stress tolerance by Enterobacter sp. SA187 is mediated by 2-keto-4-methylthiobutyric acid production. PLoS Genet 14 (3):e1007273. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1007273
  • Bang C, Dagan T, Deines P, Dubilier N, Duschl WJ, Fraune S, Hentschel U, Hirt H, Hülter N, Lachnit T, Picazo D, Pita L, Pogoreutz C, Rädecker N, Saad MM, Schmitz RA, Schulenburg H, Voolstra CR, Weiland-Bräuer N, Ziegler M, Bosch TCG. 2018. Metaorganisms in extreme environments: do microbes play a role in organismal adaptation? Zoology (Jena) 127, 1-19.
  • Daur I, Saad MM, Eida AA, Ahmad S, Shah ZH, Ihsan MZ, Muhammad Y, Sohrab SS, Hirt H. 2018. Boosting Alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) Production With Rhizobacteria From Various Plants in Saudi Arabia. Frontiers in Microbiology 9, 477-477.
  • Eida AA, Alzubaidy HS, de Zélicourt A, Synek L, Alsharif W, Lafi FF, Hirt H, Saad MM. 2019. Phylogenetically diverse endophytic bacteria from desert plants induce transcriptional changes of tissue-specific ion transporters and salinity stress in Arabidopsis thaliana. Plant Science 280, 228-240.
  • Eida AA, Hirt H, Saad MM. 2017. Challenges Faced in Field Application of Phosphate-Solubilizing Bacteria. In: Mehnaz S, ed. Rhizotrophs: Plant Growth Promotion to Bioremediation. Singapore: Springer Singapore, 125-143.
  • Andres-Barrao C, Lafi FF, Alam I, de Zelicourt A, Eida AA, Bokhari A, Alzubaidy H, Bajic VB, Hirt H, Saad MM (2017). Complete Genome Sequence Analysis of Enterobacter sp. SA187, a Plant Multi-Stress Tolerance Promoting Endophytic Bacterium. Front Microbiol 8:2023. doi:10.3389/fmicb.2017.02023 


  • Ph.D., Molecular biology, University of Geneva , Geneva, Switzerland, 2004
  • M.Sc, Biochemistry, Ain Shams University, Cairo, Egypt, 1998
  • B.Sc, Biochemistry, Ain Shams University, Cairo, Egypt, 1993

Professional Profile

  • 2020-present: Senior Research Scientist, KAUST, Thuwal, Saudi Arabia
  • 2014-2020: Research Scientist, KAUST, Thuwal, Saudi Arabia
  • 2008-2013: Maître Assistant, Unite of Microbiology, University of Geneva, Switzerland.
  • 2005-2007: Postdoctoral fellow, French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA), Toulouse, France.
  • 2004- 2005: Postdoctoral fellow, Faculty of Sciences, University of Geneva, Switzerland
  • 1999-2004: Ph.D. candidate, Faculty of Sciences, University of Geneva, Switzerland
  • 1994-2004: Research, Agriculture Research Center, Giza, Egypt

Scientific and Professional Membership

  • National coordinator of KSA for “The Fascination of Plant’s Day “
  • American Society of Plant Pathology
  • American Society of Plant Microbial Interaction
  • Swiss Society of Proteomics 
  • Egyptian Society of Biochemistry

KAUST Affiliations

Prof. Heribert Hirt's Group

CDA - Center for Desert Agriculture 

BESE - Biological and Environmental Sciences and Engineering 

Research Interests Keywords

Personalized Desert Agriculture, Microbial breeding, Biostimulants, Microbial genetic and bacterial evaluation, Plant microbiome, Function synthetic community (Fun SynCom).