• The University of Western Australia (M089), 35 Stirling Highway,

    6009 Perth


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Personal profile


Khalil is a soil microbiologist at The University of Western Australia. He is specialised in "Beneficial Soil Fungi" and he has been studying the role of mycorrhizal and other symbiotic fungi in soil nutrient cycling, plant nutrition, and improving plant performance in both agricultural and natural ecosystems.

Khalil accomplished his PhD studies at the UWA (2009-2013) where he discovered a novel plant-fungus symbiosis (named "feremycorrhiza") that was published in the prestigious journal New Phytologist (2014). From 2013-2018, Khalil worked as a researcher (part-time) at the UWA on different soil biology and agricultural projects. In 2018, he started his full-time research associate position at the UWA School of Agriculture and Environment. In 2019, Khalil was awarded a three-year Postdoc Fellowship by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) to study the potential of his newly discovered symbiosis for agriculture in collaboration with Prof Zed Rengel and Dr Craig Scanlan. His current postdoc project is entitled "Exploiting the Potential of a Novel Fungal Biofertiliser", aiming at boosting crop yield in an environmentally friendly manner and reducing chemcial inputs (phosphorus fertilisers, in particular) in farming systems.

Khalil won the Rising Stars 2021 award at the University of Western Australia (2nd prize, 28th Oct 2021). For this award, 14 researchers with different disciplines were selected based on their high research calibre and academic merit and presented their research to a broad audience, which included academics, donors, investors, industry partners and the WA Minister for Agriculture and Food (Alannah MacTiernan).

Khalil has also been involved in supervision of postgraduate students at UWA.


My research mainly focuses on the role of beneficial soil microbes (such as the feremycorrhizal fungus) in soil nutrient cycling and fertility, as well as improving plant fitness in production and natural ecosystems. Considering the damage and pollution caused by the intensive use of chemical fertilisers/pesticides worldwide, it is crucial to exploit the potential of soil microorganisms to sustain the environment, i.e. mimicking the Nature's way to save the planet.

Research interests

Feremycorrhiza, Mycorrhiza, Soil Microbiology, Nutrient Cycling, Soil Fertility, Stress Tolerance in Plants

Education/Academic qualification

Soil Biology, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), The University of Western Australia


Plant Pathology, Master of Science (MSc), Tarbiat Modarres University


Agricultural Sciences, Bachelor of Science (BSc), Gorgan University of Agricultural Science and Natural Resources


External positions

Research Assistant, Agricultural Biotechnology Research Institute of Iran (ABRII)


Industry keywords

  • Agriculture and Food
  • Environmental
  • Biotechnology

Research expertise keywords

  • Mycorrhizal associations
  • Soil microbiology
  • Plant nutrition and soil fertility
  • Beneficial fungi
  • Molecular biology and gene expression
  • Secondary metabolites in plants and fungi


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