Zahir Ali

Research Scientists

Research Scientist



Research Interests

I am interested to develop tools for plant genome engineering, using specifically the CRISPR/Cas system. 
Similarly, I am interested to explore plant potential to be used as bio-factories for the production of various bio products, 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.


  • Ph.D., Plant Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, Gyeongsang National University (South Korea).
  • MS., Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad (Pakistan).
  • Bcc., University of Peshawar (Pakistan) 

Professional Profile

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

Scientific and Professional Membership

American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB) 


  • • Out Standing 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).

KAUST Affiliations

Prof. Magdy Mahfouz's Group

CDA - Center for Desert Agriculture

BESE - Biological and Environmental Science and Engineering Division

Research Interests Keywords

CRISPR/Cas system, Plant Genome Engineering, Virus resistance, Synthetic Biology