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Dr. Mustafa Morsy

Dr. Mustafa Morsy

Professor of Biology

Dr. Morsy earned his Ph.D. degree in Cell and Molecular Biology from the University of Arkansas with research focused on plant response to abiotic stress. He joined John Cushman's lab at the University of Nevada, Reno as a postdoctoral fellow to continue his research on plant response to abiotic stress. Later, in Marilyn Roossinck's lab at the Samuel Robert Noble Foundation, he studied the molecular mechanisms governing plant-fungal-viral interaction that increase plant thermotolerance. In 2011, he joined the University of West Alabama (UWA) as a full-time faculty in the Department of Biology.

The Morsy lab at UWA focuses on discovering novel endophytes that can improve crop productivity under normal and abiotic stress conditions. His lab uses tomato and corn as model systems to test novel endophytes under greenhouse and field conditions. The Morsy lab identified many fungal endophytes that improve tomato and corn production under greenhouse and field conditions. The Morsy lab collaborates with several industry partners to develop biofertilizers to help with the dire need of increasing crop production to meet the demand of the growing global population and climatic changes. Also, the Morsy lab studies the molecular mechanisms that control a three-way symbiosis between a plant, a fungus, and a mycovirus that lead to a significant increase in plant heat tolerance. The Morsy lab research is funded by the National Science Foundation, the Alabama Department of Agriculture, and other private foundations. See the Morsy lab website for more details and recent publications by clicking here.

Dr. Morsy is a committed educator who encourages undergraduate students' involvement in research via independent studies in his lab and through a research-based curriculum. He serves as the Principal Investigator of several National Science Foundation grants that focus on improving undergraduate education at UWA by implementing a comprehensive research-based curriculum.                 

Dr. Morsy and UWA students in a research class
Dr. Morsy and UWA students in a research class.


Dr. Morsy served as the Chair and co-founder of the UWA Research Symposium and chair of the annual Symposium of the Tiny Earth: Student Sourcing Antibiotic Discovery, a global network of more than 120 universities headquartered at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Now he serve as the Chair of the American Society for Plant Biologists, Southern Section. Additionally, Dr. Morsy provides an outreach program to local K12 students through the Science Saturdays program he coordinates every fall and spring semester on the UWA campus. 

Recently, Dr. Morsy became a Fulbright U.S. Scholar. The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to forge lasting connections between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. Fulbrighters address critical global challenges while building relationships, knowledge, and leadership in support of the long-term interests of the United States. Fulbright alumni have achieved distinction in many fields, including 60 who have been awarded the Nobel Prize, 86 who have received Pulitzer Prizes, and 37 who have served as a head of state or government.

Recent Publications

  • Nothias LF, […] Morsy M, and Dorrestein PC (2020). Feature-based Molecular Networking in the GNPS Analysis Environment. Nature Methods, 17, 905–908
  • Ludwig M, Nothias LF, Dührkop K, Koester I, Fleischauer M, Hoffmann MA, Petras D, Vargas F, Morsy M, Aluwihare L,  Dorrestein PC and Böcker S (2020). Database-independent molecular formula annotation using Gibbs sampling through ZODIAC. Nature Machine Intelligence, 2, 629–641
  • Morsy M., Cleckler B., Armuelles-Millican H. (2020). Fungal Endophytes Promote Tomato Growth and Enhance Drought and Salt Tolerance. Plants 9, 877
  • Raman V, Anand A, Vasudevan B, Morsy M, Pant B, Lee HK,  and Mysore KS (2019). Overexpression of VIRE2-INTERACTING PROTEIN2 in Arabidopsis regulates genes involved in Agrobacterium-mediated plant transformation and abiotic stresses. Scientific Reports 9: 13503
  • Liu C, Cleckler B., and Morsy M. (2018). Development of an Expression Vector to Overexpress or Downregulate Genes in Curvularia protuberata. Journal of Fungi. 4(2), 54-68
  • Busby P, Soman C., Wagner MR, Friesen ML, Kremer J, Bennett A, Morsy M, Eisen JA, Leach JE, and Dangl JL (2017). Research priorities for harnessing plant microbiomes in sustainable agriculture, PLOS Biology.
  • Morsy M (2015). Microbial Symbionts: A Potential Bio-Boom.  Journal of Investigative Genomics, Vol 2, issue 1
  • Al-Hamdani S, Stoelting A, and Morsy M (2015). Influence of Symbiotic Interaction between Fungus, Virus, and Tomato Plant in Combating Heat Stress. American Journal of Plant Sciences. 6: 1633-1640.
  • Al-Hamdani S, Stoelting A, and Morsy M (2015). Influence of Symbiotic Interaction between Fungus, Virus, and Tomato Plant in Combating Heat Stress. Journal of Alabama Academy of Science. 85: 150-159

External Lab Websites