03 November, 2019

Shark skin microbiome resists infection

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.

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25 September, 2019

Giant clams trap marine plastics

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.

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05 September, 2019

Exploring oxygen supersaturation in aquatic habitats

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.

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05 September, 2019

Date palms picky about bacterial partners

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.

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03 September, 2019

Corals take control of nitrogen recycling

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.

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06 August, 2019

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

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.

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29 July, 2019

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

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.

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25 July, 2019

Industrialised Fishing Overlaps Threaten Shark Hotspots Worldwide

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.

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21 July, 2019

Spilling the story of oil in the Arabian Gulf

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.

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21 May, 2019

Growth and death in bacterial communities

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.

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13 May, 2019

Mangrove forests trap floating litter

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.

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15 April, 2019

Bacterial mix helps predict future change

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.

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08 April, 2019

Global study shows exotic species are a complex threat

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.

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13 March, 2019

Speargrass recruit sandy microbes for help

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.

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11 March, 2019

The fiddlers influencing mangrove ecosystems

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.

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01 October, 2018

Cryptic coral reef creatures show cross-shelf biodiversity patterns

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.

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16 August, 2018

Anemones rely on epigenetics during symbiosis

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.

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31 July, 2018

Bacteria that boost plant pumps against drought

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.

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29 July, 2018

Red Sea flushes faster from far flung volcanoes

Deep water in the Red Sea gets replenished much faster than previously thought and its circulation is directly affected by major climatic events, including volcanic eruptions, KAUST researchers have found. Waters occupying depths from 300 to 2000 meters in the Red Sea are recognized as the warmest and saltiest deep water in the world, with near-homogenous temperatures above 20 degrees Celsius and salinities higher than 40.5 practical salinity units (psu). The world average for similar depths is 2.5 degrees Celsius and 35 psu.

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15 July, 2018

Keeping up with sea-level rise

Soil accumulation in coastal ecosystems could mitigate rising sea levels around the Arabian Peninsula, according to new research from KAUST. However, this mitigation will require efforts to preserve and restore these ecosystems. Human-driven climate change is raising sea levels around the world at increasing rates, threatening hundreds of millions of people living in coastal areas. Researchers at KAUST’s Red Sea Research Center worked with colleagues at the King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals to determine whether this increase could be mitigated by soil accretion in coastal ecosystems.

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