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Research Discovery Publications

Whale Shark Hot Spot Offers New Conservation Insights

Nov 13, 2019

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), whale sharks are considered endangered, which means the species has suffered a population decline of more than 50% in the past three generations. The whale shark is only two classifications from being extinct. Improvements and conservation efforts are in place, but there is still a long way to go to protect these gentle underwater giants.

Postdoctoral Fellow Focus: Eva Aylagas Martinez

Nov 12, 2019

KAUST Red Sea Research Center (RSRC) postdoctoral fellow Eva Aylagas Martinez spent a large part of her childhood by the seaside in Alicante, the capital of Spain's 200 kilometer-long Costa Blanca coastline. Her childhood there nurtured in her a curiosity for nature and the environment, which led her to pursue a degree in biology at the University of La Laguna (ULL), Tenerife, in 2009.

Shark skin microbiome resists infection

Nov 03, 2019

A survey of the shark skin microbiome provides the first step toward understanding the remarkable resilience of shark wounds to infection.

In the wild, blacktip reef sharks are often seen bearing wounds, but they rarely exhibit obvious signs of infection around the wounds. As a first step toward understanding this phenomenon, an international team led by researchers at KAUST’s Red Sea Research Center investigated the microbial community living on the skin of sharks.


Giant clams trap marine plastics

Sep 25, 2019

Giant clams take up a large fraction of marine microplastics, which could help explain the mystery of the plastic that is "missing" from the Red Sea.
Researchers at the Red Sea Research Center have shown previously that the Red Sea has relatively low amounts of floating plastic debris in its surface waters, yet the reason for this has remained elusive.


Date palms picky about bacterial partners

Sep 05, 2019

Bacterial DNA sequencing analyses show date palms that are cultivated over a vast stretch of the Tunisian Sahara Desert consistently attract two types of growth-promoting bacteria to their roots, regardless of the location. This finding could help with improving crop cultivation in a warming climate.


Exploring oxygen supersaturation in aquatic habitats

Sep 05, 2019

Reduced oxygen availability in aquatic habitats is a growing threat to marine ecosystems worldwide. The lack of oxygen triggers many physiological actions in marine animals, generally endangering their homeostasis and rendering them highly susceptible to modifications in the environment, such as temperature, salinity and contaminants.

Corals take control of nitrogen recycling

Sep 03, 2019

Corals are shown to recycle their own waste ammonium using a surprising source of glucose—a finding that reveals more about the relationship between corals and their symbiotic algae.
Symbiosis between corals and algae provides the backbone for building coral reefs, particularly in nutrient-poor waters like the Red Sea.


New study reveals star role of seaweed in struggle against climate change

Aug 06, 2019

In a first of its kind study, researchers from the Red Sea Research Center (RSRC) and Computational Bioscience Research Center (CBRC) at King Abdullah University Science and Technology (KAUST), provided global-scale evidence of the important role that macroalgae play in trapping carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and sequestering it in the deep sea.

KAUST scientists found a great diversity of macroalgae drifting in the global open ocean at distances ranging almost up to 5,000 km away from coastal areas 69% of this drifting macroalgae stock sinks below 1,000 m depth, leading to the sequestration of the carbon contained in their biomass in deep ocean waters.

Prof. Carlos Duarte awarded the 2019 Ramon Margalef Prize in Ecology

Jul 29, 2019

Prof. Carlos M. Duarte has been awarded the 2019 Premi Ramon Margalef d’Ecologia. The jury of this award, the most important given by the Generalitat of Catalonia together with the Premi Internacional Catalunya, has decided that the prize goes to this oceanographer, born in Portugal but of Spanish nationality, for his discoveries and scientific advances.

Industrialised Fishing Overlaps Threaten Shark Hotspots Worldwide

Jul 25, 2019

An international team of over 150 scientists from 26 countries have collated movement data from nearly 2,000 sharks tracked with satellite transmitter tags.
The groundbreaking study, published in the journal Nature reports, revealed that even the remotest parts of the ocean appear to offer highly migratory sharks little refuge from industrialised fishing fleets.
The researchers, part of the marine megafauna movement, brought together by Carlos Duarte, Professor of Marine Science at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) mapped shark positions and revealed 'hotspots' of space use in unprecedented detail.

Spilling the story of oil in the Arabian Gulf

Jul 21, 2019

Marine sediments tell the history of an environment, including oil spills. By "reading" sediments from the past century, a research team has now determined how much oil hydrocarbon is accumulated in different vegetated coastal habitats of the Arabian Gulf and the significance of this for environmental management.


Growth and death in bacterial communities

May 21, 2019

The coastal waters of the Red Sea have enough resources to support bacterial growth, but predation by protistan grazers limits the population, according to new research from KAUST. Since bacteria are vital players in the marine food web, determining the factors that affect their growth and abundance is critical to understanding marine ecosystems and how they will respond to climate change.


Mangrove forests trap floating litter

May 13, 2019

Mangrove forests on the coasts of Saudi Arabia act as litter traps, accumulating plastic debris from the marine environment, according to new research from KAUST. The study offers an explanation for the fate of missing marine plastic litter and highlights the threat it poses to coastal ecosystems.


Bacterial mix helps predict future change

Apr 15, 2019

A controlled, laboratory approach, along with computer simulations, has helped KAUST researchers to show that bacterial communities can homogenously disperse within aquatic ecosystems even with slow flowing water and the persistence of their preferred, localized conditions.


Global study shows exotic species are a complex threat

Apr 08, 2019

When species are introduced by humans into marine habitats, they can disrupt their new environment, according to a study at KAUST, which also identified key species for conservation efforts to focus on.