Heribert Hirt

Professor, Plant Science

Biological and Environmental Science and Engineering Division
Center membership : 
Center for Desert Agriculture

Darwin21 Lab


Education Profile

  • ​1989-1990 Post-doctoral fellow, Institute of Microbiology & Genetics, University of Vienna
  • 1988 Post-doctoral fellow, Deptartment of Microbiology, Oxford University
  • 1987 Post-doctoral fellow, Institute of Biochemistry, University of Vienna
  • 1984-1987 Ph.D. Biochemistry, University of Vienna
  • 1979-1983 M.Sc. Biochemistry, University of Vienna
  • 1976-1978 B.Sc. Biochemistry, University of Cape Town

Research Interests

Hirt's research focuses on how plants can survive under abiotic or biotic stress conditions. At KAUST, he established two research lines. One research topic focuses on how MAP kinases target chromatin primes stress resistance at both the genetic and epigenetic level. The other research line searches for beneficial microbes and investigates their mechanisms to enhance stress tolerance in plants. When coming to the Middle East, Hirt launched the large-scale Darwin21 project to bioprospect various deserts in the world for beneficial microbes that can ultimately enhance crop production on underused arid lands by increasing heat and drought resistance or using irrigation with saline water.

Selected Publications

  • Identification of an ABA-independent oxylipin pathway that controls stomatal closure and immune defense in Arabidopsis, Montillet JL, Leonhardt N, Mondy S, Tranchimand S, Boudsocq M, Garcia AV, Douki T, Bigeard J, Laurière C, Chevalier A, Castresana C, Rumeau D, Hirt H, PLoS Biology, 2013, 11(3):e1001513.
  • Linking the proteins – elucidation of proteome-scale networks using mass spectrometry, Pflieger D, Gonnet F, van Bentem S Hirt, H, de la Fuente A, Mass Spectr. Rev., 2011, 30:268-97.
  • New insights into an old story: Agrobacterium-induced tumour formation in plants by plant transformation, Pitzschke A, Hirt H., EMBO J., 2010, 29:1021-32.
  • VIP1 response elements mediate mitogen-activated protein kinase 3-induced stress gene expression, Pitzschke, A., Djamei, A., Teige, M., Hirt, H., Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., 2009, USA, 106:18414-9.
  • Trojan horse strategy in Agrobacterium transformation by abusing MAPK defence signalling, Djamei, A., Pitzschke, A., Nakagami, H., Rajh, I., and Hirt, H., Science, 2007, 318, 453-456.