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Curriculum Vitae

Dr. Amal Mohammad Harb

Molecular Plant Biology

Personal Information

Name: Amal Mohammad Harb

Marital status: Married

Children: one girl

Home Address: Aydoun, Irbid, Jordan

Work Address: Department of Biological Sciences/ Yarmouk University

Irbid, Jordan 566-21163



Qualifications

  • Three months training in Cytogenetic lab, Medicine School, Jordan University of Science and Technology.



  • Participate in a course of contemporary pedagogy for 4 months, Fall 2007.



  • GTA Training Workshop, Fall 2007.



  • Cloning of plant genes for drought tolerance.

Education

Dissertation title: Dissection of drought response in Arabidopsis.

Dissertation abstract:

Plants as sessile organisms are susceptible to many environmental stresses such as drought, and salinity. They have therefore evolved mechanisms to acclimate and tolerate environmental stresses. Knowledge of the molecular aspects of abiotic stress gleaned from extensive studies in Arabidopsis has provided much information on the complex processes underlying plant response to abiotic stresses. Nevertheless, there is a need for integration of the knowledge gained and a systematic molecular genetic dissection of the complex responses to abiotic stress. In this study in Arabidopsis, comparative expression profiling analysis of progressive (pDr) and moderate (mDr) drought treatments revealed common drought responses, as well as treatment specific signatures responses to drought stress. Under prolonged moderate drought plants develop different mechanisms for acclimation: induction of cell wall loosening at early stage, and a change in hormonal balance (ABA: JA) at late stage of moderate drought. Taking a reverse genetics approach, a MYB transcription factor (MYB109) has been identified as a regulator of growth under drought and salt stress. Global expression profiling showed possible mechanisms of how MYB109 modulates growth under drought conditions: as a regulator of RNA processing and splicing and as a negative regulator of jasmonic acid biosynthesis and signaling. A forward genetics screen for drought and salt tolerance of transposon activation tag (ATag) lines led to the discovery of novel genes, which shed light on unexplored areas of abiotic stress biology. Utilizing this strategy, a potential role for cell wall modification and MATE transporters in response to drought and salt stress has been discovered, which needs further analysis to integrate this information on the role of these biological processes in plant stress biology.



  • 2000 – 2002, Master in Applied Biological Sciences/ Jordan University of Science and Technology, Irbid/Jordan

Thesis title: The role of indole-3-acetic acid in host – parasite (Orbanche ramose) interaction.

  • 1995 – 1999, Bachelor in Applied Biological Sciences with a minor in: Genetics and Molecular Biology/ Jordan University of Science and Technology, Irbid/Jordan.

Professional Experience

2002 – 2006, Teaching Assistant in Department of Biological Sciences, Yarmouk University, Irbid/ Jordan

Description of Position:

Organizing and Teaching the following undergraduate and graduate laboratories:

Undergraduate Level Laboratories:



  • General Biology

  • Plant Physiology

  • Plant Morphology

  • Plant Anatomy

  • Plant Taxonomy

  • Biochemistry

Graduate Level Laboratories:

  • Genetics

  • Biotechnology

  • Environmental Biotechnology

2010 - Current: Assistant Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences/ Yarmouk University, Irbid/ Jordan

Courses taught:

  • General Biology B101 for freshman students and other levels students from different majors in science

  • Advanced biotechnology for graduates

  • Biotechnology for undergraduates



Publications

  • Harb A, Hameed K, and Shibli R. (2004). Effect of Triiodobenzoic Acid on Broomrape (Orobanche ramose) Infection and Development in Tomato Plants. Plant Pathol. J. 20(2): 81 – 84.

  • Krishnan A, Ambavaram MMR, Harb A, Batlang U, Wittich PE, Pereira A (2009) Genetic networks underlying plant abiotic stress responses. In: Genes for Plant Abiotic Stress, Jenks MA, Wood AJ (eds) John Wiley &Sons, Inc., Ames, IA. PP: 263- 276.




  • Harb A, Krishnan A, Ambavaram MM, Pereira A. 2010. Molecular and physiological analysis of drought stress in Arabidopsis reveals early responses leading to acclimation in plant growth. Plant Physiol. 154: 1254-1271.




  • Harb A, Pereira A. 2011. Screening Arabidopsis genotypes for drought stress resistance. Methods Mol Biol. 678:191-198.




  • Harb A. 2013. Reverse mobilization, total sugars and proteins in germinating seeds of durum wheat (Triticum durum Desf.) under water deficit after short period of imbibition. Jordan Journal of Biological Sciences. 6 (1): 67 – 72.



  • Harb A, Lahham J. 2013. Response of Three Accessions of Jordanian Aegilops crassa Boiss. and Durum Wheat to Controlled Drought. Jordan Journal of Biological Sciences. 6 (2): 215 – 230.



Participation in Conferences and Scientific Days

  • Harb A, Shibli R., Hameed K. 2002. The role of indole-3-acetic acid in host – parasite (Orbanche ramose) interaction. The Fifth Scientific Day organized by the Faculty of Agriculture, Jordan University of Science and Technology. May 14, 2002. Poster session.



  • Harb A, Tatariw C, Krishnan A, Crasta O, Loganathan A, Lin S, Wittich P, Ambavaram M, Utlwang B, and Pereira A. A high throughput gravimetric method for drought screen of Arabidopsis mutants. Sixth Annual Department of Biological Sciences Research Day February 21, 2009. Poster session.

Harb A, Pereira A. 2012. Dissection of drought response in Arabidopsis. “New Prospects for Science and Education in the MENA region”. Marrakech, March 9-11. Oral presentation.

Professional Preparation

  • Lab instructor, General Biology and plant biology laboratories. 1999 – 2002 (GTA during Master study).

  • Lab instructor, Microbiology lab. Spring and Fall 2007 (GTA during PhD study).

Community Services

  • Presentation of my PhD project to a group of undergraduate students in Virginia Tech – Alliance for Minority Participation (VT-AMP) program, spring 2008. This program aims to encourage young students from minority groups to do science, and to be involved in the academic world.



  • Training of high school students to engage them in science.

Funded Projects

  • Screening of Jordanian Aegilops species under drought and salinity. Project No. 4/2011 funded by the deanship of Scientific Research at Yarmouk University.

Project Status: Closed

Project objectives:

  1. To collect Aegilops plants from different geographical locations in Jordan

  2. To identify Aegilops samples at the species and accession level in order to develop a library of Jordanian Aegilops species and accessions.

  3. To screen the identified Aegilops plants for resistance to different abiotic stresses such as: drought and salinity. This will be the first step in the process of molecular mining for stress resistance genes.



  • Development of Drought Tolerant Wheat Transgenic Lines by the Overexpression of Drought Responsive Transcription Factors from the Model Plant Arabidopsis. Project Bas /1/01/2011 funded by Scientific Research Support Fund, Amman/Jordan.

Project Status: Ongoing

Project abstract:

Among the major challenges that facing humanity this century is drought. Drought is water deficit due to global warming and decrease in rainfall. Drought problem has been exacerbating in the Mediterranean region, but it was the worst in Jordan. This is because more than 75% of Jordan’s area is desert. Being number one consumer of freshwater, agriculture was negatively impacted by the prevailing drought conditions. Most commonly consumed crops such as wheat depend completely on rainfall, which is unpredicted source given the increase in temperature and the decrease in rainfall started last decade. In Jordan, most of the lands are cultivated with durum wheat (Triticum durum Desf.) and only small area is cultivated with bread wheat, which requires irrigation. With the dominant drought, the production of durum wheat drastically decreased, and it is not enough to meet the requirements of the population in Jordan. Therefore, it is a priority to find ways to overcome the detrimental effects of drought on the growth and production of crops. Different breeding, genetic and biotechnology approaches have been taken to better our understanding of plant response to drought and to improve plant tolerance to drought. Transgenic approach is an approach by which plant tolerance to drought is enhanced by the overexpression of drought responsive genes. Transcription factors (TFs) are regulatory proteins that regulate the expression of other genes. They are considered as important hubs in the regulation of plant growth, development and the fine tuning of plant response to the surrounding environment. Previous studies on model plants such as Arabidopsis showed the improved drought tolerance of transgenic lines, which overexpress drought responsive TFs. In this study, we are proposing the generation of transgenic durum wheat lines that overexpress drought responsive TFs from the model plant Arabidopsis, as a step for the development of drought tolerant wheat lines.



Project objectives:

  1. Cloning of two drought responsive transcription factors (TFs) (genes from MYB and HB families) from the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana.



  1. Transformation of two Jordanian durum wheat cultivars: ACSAD 65 and Hourani nawawi with the cloned TFs.



  1. Evaluation of the performance of the resulted transgenic lines under drought in laboratory and greenhouse conditions.


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