07 September, 2021

Student Focus: Silvia Vimercati

We caught up with Silvia Vimercati, a PhD student in the KAUST Habitat and Benthic Biodiversity (HaBB) Lab, who studies the unique relationships between stony corals (the Scleractinia) and coral-dwelling gall crabs (in the family Cryptochiridae).

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15 August, 2021

Probiotics for corals boost resilience, help prevent mortality

As more coral reefs around the world suffer from bleaching and mass mortality due to warming ocean temperatures and related climate change conditions, good news about reefs is welcome news. A new study, Coral microbiome manipulation elicits metabolic and genetic restructuring to mitigate heat stress and evade mortality, shows probiotics to be helpful protagonists in boosting coral health and preventing mortality in the face of environmental stressors.

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13 August, 2021

Corals survive the heat with bacterial help

Treating corals with a probiotic cocktail of beneficial bacteria increases survival after a bleaching event, according to new research. This approach could be administered in advance of a predicted heatwave to help corals recover from high sea temperatures.

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04 August, 2021

Professor Francesca Benzoni and Professor Froukje van der Zwan appointed as Associate Directors of the Red Sea Research Center

It is with great pleasure that we announce the appointments of Associate Professor Francesca Benzoni and Assistant Professor Froukje van der Zwan as associate directors for the Red Sea Research Center (RSRC), effective August 1, 2021.

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25 July, 2021

A radical plan to save ravaged coral reefs—with customized medicine

For decades, scientists have been engaged in a furious effort to save the world’s coral reefs, which are vanishing at an alarming rate—about half of them are believed to have died over the last 50 years. Efforts to “do something about it” have ranged from replanting programs to genetic engineering and establishing protective reserves. The combined effects of acidification, pollution, and climate change, however, continue to ravage these colonies. Scientists predict that up to 9O percent will die out over the next two decades and that they will be gone completely by 2100.

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09 July, 2021

Creating a lab mangrove helps to identify new bacteria

A pioneering cultivation strategy that recreates a mangrove environment in the lab has enabled identification of novel bacteria residing in Red Sea mangroves and will help improve understanding of mangrove ecosystem stability, resilience and sustainability. Mangroves are highly productive, dominant coastal ecosystems that line between 60-70 percent of the world’s tropical and subtropical coastlines.

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07 July, 2021

Professor Raquel S. Peixoto: The Coral Warrior

The world’s coral reefs are in crisis, with climate change emerging as the biggest threat of mass coral reef bleaching. Coral reef health walks hand-in-hand with overall ocean health, in addition to supplying effective shoreline protection and supporting businesses globally, from fishing to tourism. In the search for solutions, Professor Raquel S. Peixoto and her team at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) have reportedly found a new method to aid the stress tolerance and resilience of coral.

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30 June, 2021

Saudi environmental stewards release hawksbills

​Scientists from KAUST and the Red Sea Development Company (TRSDC) have been working to rescue wildlife along the Red Sea coast. A team recently released two Hawksbill sea turtles named Amal (Hope) and Hayat (Life). The initiative was headed up by RSRC, KAUST alumna and Protected Species Science Manager Royale Hardenstine and her colleague at TRSDC, Senior Compliance and Enforcement Manager, Khalid Aldahlawi.

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27 June, 2021

TRSDC Signs Master Research Agreement with KAUST

The Red Sea Development Company (TRSDC), the developer behind the world's most ambitious regenerative tourism project, has signed a Master Research Agreement (MRA) with KAUST. The agreement follows extensive collaboration between the two organizations on flora and fauna assessments, marine spatial planning, and an international competition called the Brains-for-Brine Challenge.

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22 June, 2021

NEOM and KAUST partner on coral garden

The NEOM Company and KAUST recently announced a joint project to establish the world's largest coral garden at Shushah Island in the Red Sea area of NEOM, in northwest Saudi Arabia. The project is a tangible demonstration of Saudi Arabia's commitment to protect 95% of nature within NEOM. The 100-hectare Shushah Island Coral Reefscape will showcase reef restoration innovations and accelerate solutions for conserving coral reefs in a changing climate.

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26 May, 2021

Sounds of the ocean reveal marine conditions

Ocean noise is increasing in prevalence and scale from human sources such as cargo shipping, seismic blasting, active sonar, pile driving and fishing vessels. The extent to which it is changing the character of the ocean soundscape and impacting marine life and their habitats is a largely understudied and unaddressed area. A multi-institutional meta-study published in Science, in February 2021, "The soundscape of the Anthropocene ocean", documents the adverse effects of this sonic footprint, and presents a path toward solutions in a context of ocean health and sustainable ocean economies.

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06 May, 2021

Prof. Duarte's paper was included in the 5 most popular scientific papers of February 2021 in the Nature Index journals

Prof. Duarte's paper entitled "The soundscape of the Anthropocene ocean" was included in the 5 most popular scientific papers of February 2021 in the Nature Index journals.

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23 May, 2021

Deep and extreme: Microbes thrive in transition

A diverse microbial community has adapted to an extremely salty environment deep in the Red Sea. The microbes, many unknown to science, occupy a one-meter-thick area overlying the Suakin Deep, an expansive 80-meter-deep brine lake, 2,771 meters below the central Red Sea. The chemical properties of this thin “brine-seawater interface,” along with the composition of microbial communities, change surprisingly rapidly across a sharp gradient.

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01 May, 2021

Prof. Rusty Brainard has been recognized among Cityscape's top 20 real estate industry climate change champions

Prof. Rusty Brainard, Chief Environment Officer at the Red Sea Development Company (TRSDC) and Courtesty Professor of marine science at the KAUST'S Red Sea Research Center has been recognized among Cityscape's top 20 real estate industry climate change champions.

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29 April, 2021

Coral symbionts have a genome like no other

The genome of single-celled plankton, known as dinoflagellates, is organized in an incredibly strange and unusual way, according to new research. The findings lay the groundwork for further investigation into these important marine organisms and dramatically expand our picture of what a eukaryotic genome can look like.

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29 April, 2021

How reef-building corals got their bones

Coral reefs provide shelter, sustenance and stability to a range of organisms, but these vital ecosystems would not exist if not for the skeletal structure created by stony corals. Now, KAUST scientists together with an international team have revealed the underlying genetic story of how corals evolved from soft-bodied organisms to build the myriad calcified structures we see today.

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18 April, 2021

Corals go hungry long before they bleach

The results of coral beaching are obvious — stark underwater forests of white coral skeletons — yet the physiological processes of bleaching are not well understood. Now, KAUST researchers show that, long before signs of bleaching appear, prolonged spells of warm water cause heat stress that disrupts the nutrient cycling of the coral and its symbiotic algae.

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06 April, 2021

Human activities sound an alarm for sea life

Humans have altered the ocean soundscape by drowning out natural noises relied upon by many marine animals, from shrimp to sharks.

Sound travels fast and far in water, and sea creatures use sound to communicate, navigate, hunt, hide and mate. Since the industrial revolution, humans have introduced their own underwater cacophony from shipping vessels, seismic surveys searching for oil and gas, sonar mapping of the ocean floor, coastal construction and wind farms. Global warming could further alter the ocean soundscape as the melting Arctic opens up more shipping routes and wind and rainfall patterns change.

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14 April, 2021

Lockdowns unlock ecology research potential

When most of the world went into lockdown to limit the spread of COVID-19, ecologists realized that these tragic circumstances presented a unique opportunity to study how the presence, or absence, of humans affects biodiversity.

The freedom to travel and transport goods by land, air or sea has underpinned social and economic progress yet has been costly to the natural world, destroying habitats and contributing to climate change. In April 2020, an estimated 4.4 billion people experienced a full or partial national lockdown, compelled to severely limit their movements. And the natural world expanded its reach.

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30 March, 2021

Prof. Duarte named Extreme E scientific committee member

Extreme E has expanded its Scientific Committee with the appointment of KAUST Distinguished Professor of Marine Science Carlos Duarte, one of the world's leading minds on marine ecosystems. His appointment comes in advance of Extreme E's opening race in Saudi Arabia as the series strengthens its commitment to raise awareness for the climate issues facing the locations in which it races.

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