Rita Bartossek

Research Scientists

Research Scientist




Research Interests

My background is in marine and soil microbial ecology, with special interest in communities in extreme environments, such as hot springs and brine pools. These organisms harbor novel “biocatalyst” enzymes that can be immensely useful to modern biotechnology, from new molecular tools to novel medications. “White” Biotechnology, the use of biocatalysts for industrial processes, can help make manufacturing processes more efficient and environmentally friendly, help recycle materials that are currently unrecyclable, and, most importantly, help us to produce more environmentally friendly materials in the first place. 
Like industry, modern agriculture needs novel solutions to environmental problems such as land degradation, increasing soil salinity, and water scarcity due to current practices. Within the Salt Lab at KAUST, I have been using my biotechnological expertise in the adaptation and genetic engineering of plants for enhanced salt tolerance, with an overall aim to reduce the environmental impact of modern agriculture while maintaining food security. 

Selected Publications

  • Bartossek, R., Nicol, G.W., Lanzén, A., Klenk, H.P., and Schleper, C.: (2010) Homologues of nitrite reductases in ammonia-oxidizing archaea: diversity and genomic context. Environmental Microbiology. 12, 1075-1088
  • Reigstad, L.J., Bartossek, R., Schleper, C. (2011) Preparation of high-molecular weight DNA and metagenomic libraries from soils and hot springs. Methods in Enzymology. 496, 319-344
  • Bartossek, R., Spang, A., Weidler, G., Lanzen, A., and Schleper C. (2012): Metagenomic analysis of ammonia-oxidizing archaea affiliated with the soil group. Frontiers in Microbiology 3, 208


  • Ph.D., Microbiology, University of Bergen, Norway, 2013

Professional Profile

  • 2013: Project Manager for Qualification / Validation, ILB GmbH, Sanofi- Aventis, Industrial Park Hoechst, Germany
  • 2014-2015: Post-Doctoral Fellow, Red Sea Research Center, Marine Microbial Ecology Lab, PI Prof. Dr. Uli Stingl, KAUST, Saudi Arabia
  • 2015-2017: Scientist, Bioscience Core Lab, Genomics, PacBio Sequencing Service, KAUST, Saudi Arabia
  • 2017-2018: Lab Manager, Integrative Systems Biology Lab, PI Prof. Timothy Ravasi, KAUST, Saudi Arabia
  • 2018-2020: Research Scientist, Desert Agriculture Initiative, PI Prof. Mark Tester, KAUST, Saudi Arabia

KAUST Affiliations

Prof. Mark Tester's Group

CDA - Center for Desert Agriculture

BESE - Biological and Environmental Science and Engineering Division

Research Interests Keywords

Biotechnology, metagenomics as tool for analysis of novel enzymes of complex communities, microbial ecology, comparative genomics, next generation sequencing, adaptation to extreme environments in plants