Postdoc Profile: Ahmad Omar Elhanafi


IFAS, Citrus Research and Education Center

Age:  41

Home Country:  Egypt

Area of Research: Plant Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Degrees:  B.S. in 1993 from Zagazig University, Egypt; M.S. in 1997 from Zagazig University, Egypt; Ph.D. in 2006 from the University of Florida

Ahmad Elhanafi is a Postdoctoral Research Associate with a joint academic research assignment with the UF-CREC and UF Department of Horticulture Science. He completed a Ph.D. in the academic field of Plant Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Florida in 2006. Dr. Elhanafi accepted a Postdoctoral Research Associate position with the UF- CREC 2006 and then again in 2011.

Dr. Elhanafi has experience with citrus biotechnology, genetic transformation of citrus, molecular methods to characterize transgenic citrus plants, transgenic plant propagation, and experience with disease resistance screening in citrus.  This University-Industry-Government collaborative project entails the employment of transgenic strategies to develop long-termed solutions to two diseases, huanglongbing (HLB or citrus greening disease) and citrus canker, which are currently threatening the citrus industry in Florida, and may be threatening the citrus industries in Texas and California subsequently. 

Dr. Elhanafi optimized a new citrus protoplast transformation system and was able to improve this system to the point where it is competitive with the Agrobacterium-mediated citrus transformation system, but with the advantage of generating transgenic plants that do not contain an antibiotic resistance gene.  He also has experience developing a PCR-based technique to determine transgene copy number in transgenic citrus plants. His work is part of a project to identify transgenes that can be successfully transferred to important citrus cultivars and tested for their ability to mitigate these diseases under real-world field conditions.