Current research and/or projects

• Evaluation of fungal endophytes for protection of blueberry bushes and grapevines diseases

• Grapevine cryotherapy as a tool for virus remediation  

• Isolation and molecular identification of onion bacterial rot causing pathogens

• Improving the production and storage of high quality apple cultivars

• Molecular identification of the root pathogens in strawberry fields

• Molecular identification of blueberry fungal pathogens

• Emerging fruit tree decline

• Characterization of effectors from fire blight pathogen Erwinia amylovowa



Professional activities / interests

• Plant-pathogens-host relationships

• Plant-microbe association

• Role of effectors in promoting and suppressing plant diseases such as study of fungal and bacterial virulence, avirulence and pathogenicity genes

• Molecular genetics of phytopathogens and plant-associated microorganisms

• Plant tissue culture and gene transformation

• Plant abiotic stress response

Education and awards


B.Sc. (Hons) Agriculture, Gomal University, 2001

M.Phil. Biotechnology,  Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, 2004.

Ph.D.  Department of Botany, University of British Columbia Vancouver Canada, 2011


FQRNT Postdoctoral Fellowship, Quebec, Canada 2013

NSERC, visiting fellowships in Canadian Government Laboratories, 2011-2013

Gold Medal, B.Sc. (Hons)

Merit-based scholarship, B.Sc. (Hons)

International experience and/or work

January 2014 to June 2017, Post-doctoral Fellow, Center for Desert Agriculture, Division of Biological and Environmental Sciences and Engineering, 4700 King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Thuwal KSA.

October 2015 to November 2015, Visiting Research Scientist, Max-Plank Institute of Molecular Physiology, Potsdam, Germany.

November 2015 to December 2015, Visiting Research Scientist, Institute of Molecular Plant Sciences, University of Edinburgh UK.



Key publications

  1. Ali, S., Magne, M., Chen, S., Côté, O., Stare, B.G., Obradovic, N., Jamshaid, L., Wang, X., Bélair, G., Moffett, P. (2015). Analysis of putative apoplastic effectors from the nematode, Globodera rostochiensis, and identification of an expansin-like protein that can induce and suppress host defenses, 10(1),

    2015 - View publication details

  2. Ali, S., Laurie, J.D., Linning, R., Cervantes-Chávez, J.A., Gaudet, D., Bakkeren, G. (2014). An Immunity-Triggering Effector from the Barley Smut Fungus Ustilago hordei Resides in an Ustilaginaceae-Specific Cluster Bearing Signs of Transposable Element-Assisted Evolution, 10(7),

    2014 - View publication details

  3. Laurie, J.D., Ali, S., Linning, R., Mannhaupt, G., Wong, P., Güldener, U., Münsterkötter, M., Moore, R., Kahmann, R., Bakkeren, G., Schirawski, J. (2012). Genome comparison of barley and maize smut fungi reveals targeted loss of RNA silencing components and species-specific presence of transposable elements, 24(5), 1733-1745.

    2012 - View publication details

  4. Ali, S., Bakkeren, G. (2011). Introduction of large DNA inserts into the barley pathogenic fungus, Ustilago hordei, via recombined binary BAC vectors and Agrobacterium-mediated transformation, 57(1), 63-73.

    2011 - View publication details

  5. Cervantes-Chávez, J.A., Ali, S., Bakkeren, G. (2011). Response to environmental stresses, cell-wall integrity, and virulence are orchestrated through the calcineurin pathway in ustilago hordei, 24(2), 219-232.

    2011 - View publication details