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

​The aim of Dr. Al-Babili's research is to generate crops with improved agricultural performance and enhanced nutritional value. Professor Al-Babili has long-standing experience in engineering crops with enhanced provitamin A content and in elucidating carotenoid-related metabolic pathways. Using combined enzymology-based and genetic approaches, he aims at elucidating metabolic networks and identifying new signaling molecules related to abiotic stress and plant development. Recently he has been focusing on the metabolism of the stress hormone abscisic acid and on strigolactones, a novel class of plant hormones regulating plant architecture and mediating the interaction with symbiotic fungi and root parasitic plants.

Selected Publications

  • ​Alder, A., Jamil, M., Marzorati, M., Bruno, M., Vermathen, M., Bigler, P., Ghisla, S., Bouwmeester, H., Beyer, P. and Al-Babili, S. (2012) The path from -carotene to carlactone, a strigolactone-like plant hormone. Science 335, 1348-1351. Ruch, S., Beyer, P., Ernst, HG. and Al-Babili, S. (2005) Retinal biosynthesis in eubacteria: In vitro characterization of a novel carotenoid oxygenase from Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803. Mol. Microbiol. 55, 1015-1024. Kloer, D.P., Ruch, S., Al-Babili, S., Beyer, P. and Schulz, G.E. (2005) The structure of a retinal forming oxygenase. Science 308, 267-269. Al-Babili, S. and Beyer, P. (2005) Golden Rice--five years on the road--five years to go? Trends Plant Sci. 10, 565-573. Ye*, X., Al-Babili*, S., Klöti, A., Zhang, J., Lucca, P., Beyer, P. and Potrykus, I. (2000) Engineering the complete provitamin A (-carotene) biosynthetic pathway into (carotenoid-free) rice endosperm. Science 287, 303-305.
  • 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.