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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.

#Discovery

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.

#Discovery

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.

#Discovery

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.

#Discovery

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.

#Discovery

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.

#Discovery

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.

#Discovery

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.

#Discovery

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.

#Discovery

Speargrass recruit sandy microbes for help

Mar 13, 2019

Sticky, sandy sheaths surrounding the roots of three speargrass species growing in the Namib Desert recruit whatever growth-promoting bacteria are available in the surrounding sand. This is contrary to the more specialized root sheaths of plants growing in resource-rich soils, where different plant species recruit different types of bacteria.

#Discovery

The fiddlers influencing mangrove ecosystems

Mar 11, 2019

The types of bacteria present in and around mangrove fiddler crab burrows in three different geographic locations were compared by KAUST researchers. They found that the crabs' burrowing activity changed the sediment in a way that attracted different types of bacteria across the three locations: however, the bacteria performed similar functions, such as aerobic respiration, and ecological services, such as turnover of organic matter.

#Discovery

Plankton communities' warm response to nutrient availability

Nov 18, 2018

Microbial plankton communities will be boosted in productivity and biomass from warmer water temperatures provided sufficient nutrients are also readily available, suggest KAUST researchers.
The response of marine ecosystems to global warming depends on complex factors. The growth rates and activity of plankton communities are largely dictated by nutrient availability (bottom-up control), predation (top-down control) and changes in water temperature.

#Discovery

Cryptic coral reef creatures show cross-shelf biodiversity patterns

Oct 01, 2018

Cryptic fauna—small organisms that inhabit the hidden spaces within a reef structure—represent a substantial proportion of the diversity within coral reefs but are typically neglected in traditional visual surveys, which tend to focus on large and conspicuous species, such as fish and corals.

#Discovery

Anemones rely on epigenetics during symbiosis

Aug 16, 2018

Anemones use epigenetic mechanisms to regulate the expression of genes involved in their symbiosis with photosynthetic algae, according to new research from KAUST. The same mechanisms may help them respond to environmental stress and could be harnessed to improve the resilience of anemones and corals to the challenges posed by climate change.
A team at KAUST have sequenced anemone genomes using a technique that detects DNA methylation, a chemical tag attached to DNA that affects gene expression without altering the genetic sequence. They found that nearly 40 percent of anemone genes were methylated and that the methylation level of a gene correlated with its expression level.

#Discovery

Bacteria that boost plant pumps against drought

Jul 31, 2018

Two types of bacteria known for their growth-promoting properties improved chili plant resistance to drought. They do this partially through their role in over-activating a pump present in the vacuolar membrane of root cells that ultimately facilitates water uptake from soil.
Microbial ecologist, Daniele Daffonchio, and colleagues at KAUST and in Italy investigated whether bacteria that can confer drought resistance in plants have an effect on a cellular vacuolar proton pump that helps roots take up more water from the soil.

#Discovery