Laboratory for Genome Engineering & Synthetic Biology

We develop and apply genome engineering and synthetic biology approaches and harness engineering and evolution principles to design and build genetic networks and thus engineer organisms with improved traits for key applications, including crop improvement, biomanufacturing, and diagnostics.

Our research interests are:

Bioengineering technologies will transform and reshape the future of medicine and agriculture and will revolutionize our ability to understand and engineer genomes. In our laboratory, we develop and apply genome engineering technologies to understand and evolve gene functions and to improve traits of value.  We develop technologies for engineering cells to biomanufacture high-value products, including key compounds and select chemicals and pharmaceuticals in different synthetic biologic chassis, including plants, bacteria, and yeast. We translate ideas into products and design and construct novel synthetic gene networks for the overproduction of critical biomolecules.






Lab Members



30 May, 2021

Vigilant: An Engineered VirD2-Cas9 Complex for Lateral Flow Assay-Based Detection of SARS-CoV2

Read more

21 June, 2020

The test we need

Researchers at KAUST are developing a test that is rapid, accurate and easy to use in the field—can it help flatten future curves?

Read more

05 April, 2020

Better plant edits by enhancing DNA repair

A protein hijacked from a bacterial pathogen helps to facilitate more precise genome editing in plants.

Read more


Vigilant: An Engineered VirD2-Cas9 Complex for Lateral Flow Assay-Based Detection of Sars-Cov2

Vigilant is a programmable diagnostic platform which is simple, affordable and can be handled by non-experts. In principle, it can be repurposed to detect almost any nucleic acid of interest rendering it ideal for the identification ofviruses, bacteria, mutations, alleles, ...etc


Sci-Café: COVID-19 Part IV

featuring, panelists Charlotte Hauser, Stefan Arold and Magdy Mahfouz, with moderator Naadiya Carrim, Our KAUST panel of experts will share how they are tuning their work to contribute to a broad range of solutions to the challenges of COVID-19.


Method of inhibiting plant virus pathogen infections by crispr/cas9-mediated interference

by Mahfouz, Magdy M., Ali, Zahir
Patent Year: 2016

Extra Information

Publication number: WO 2016/185411 Al


A genetically modified tobacco plant or tomato plant resistant to at least one pathogenic geminiviridae virus species is provided. The plant comprises a heterologous CRISPR/Cas9 system and at least one heterologous nucleotide sequence that is capable of hybridizing to a nucleotide sequence of the pathogenic virus and that directs inactivation of the pathogenic virus species or plurality of viral species by the CRISPR/Cas9 system. The heterologous nucleotide sequence can be complementary to, but not limited to an Intergenic Region (IR) of the Tomato Yellow Leaf Curl Virus (TYLCV), Further provided are methods of generating a genetically modified plant that is resistant to a virus pathogen by a heterologous CRISPR/Cas9 system and expression of a gRNA specifically targeting the virus.