Salim Al-Babili

Professor of Plant Science and Bioengineering
Associate Dean of the Biological and Environmental Science and Engineering Division (BESE)

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

BioActives Lab


Education Profile

  • ​​​​​​​​Habilitation, University of Freiburg, Germany, 2007
  • Ph.D., Cell Biology, University of Freiburg, Germany, 1996
  • Diploma, Major Molecular Biology and Genetics, University of Freiburg, Germany, 1992

Research Interests

Al-Babili has longstanding expertise in genetic engineering of biofortified crops and elucidating metabolic pathways. His BioActives Lab is currently working on basic and translational aspects of plant metabolism and hormone research, focused on strigolactones and on identifying novel small molecules regulating crop resilience and performance. In addition, he is developing hormone-based chemistries to combat the root parasitic plant Striga, and is establishing the molecular toolkit required for improving the resistance and performance of pearl millet, a nutritious and important cereal for arid and hot climates.

Selected Publications

  • Zaxinone, a natural apocarotenoid, regulates growth and strigolactone biosynthesis in rice, J.Y. Wang, I. Haider, M. Jamil, V. Fiorilli, Y. Saito, J., Mi, L. Baz, B., Kountche, K.P. Jia, X. Guo, A. Balakrishna, V. Ntui, B. Reinke, V. Volpe, T. Gojobori, I. Blilou, L. Lanfranco, P. Bonfante, S. Al-Babili, Nature Communications, 2019.
  • Anchorene is a carotenoid-derived regulatory metabolite required for anchor root formation in Arabidopsis, K.P. Jia, A.J. Dickinson, J. Mi, G. Cui, T.T. Xiao, N.M. Kharbatia, X. Guo, E. Sugiono, M. Aranda, I. Blilou, M. Rueping, P.N. Benfey, S. Al-Babili, Science Advances, 2019.
  • Implementing suicidal germination strategy for sustainable witchweed control in sub-Saharan Africa, B. Kountche, M. Jamil, D. Yonli, P. Nikiema, T. Asami, B. Zwanenburg, S. Al-Babili, Plant People Planet, 2019.
  • Strigolactones, a novel carotenoid-derived plant hormone, S. Al-Babili, H.J. Bouwmeester, Annual Review in Plant Biology, 2015.
  • The path from β-carotene to carlactone, a strigolactone-like plant hormone, A. Alder, M. Jamil, M. Marzorati, M. Bruno, M. Vermathen, P. Bigler, S. Ghisla, H.J. Bouwmeester, P. Beyer, S. Al-Babili, Science, 2012.
  • Engineering the provitamin A (beta-carotene) biosynthetic pathway into (carotenoid-free) rice endosperm, X. Ye*, S. Al-Babili*, A. Klöti, J. Zhang, P. Lucca, P. Beyer, I. Potrykus, Science, 2000.