Raquel Peixoto, Ph.D.


​Associate Professor of Marine Science

Research Interests

Prof. Peixoto's research has outlined the protocols and proved the concept that the manipulation of coral-associated microorganisms, using Beneficial Microorganisms for Corals (BMCs), is possible and can increase the host’s resilience and resistance against environmental threats. This pioneering work has contributed to pave the way for new approaches to reveal and explore mechanisms of marine microbiology and symbiotic interactions. As founder and chair of the Beneficial Microbes for Marine Organisms network (BMMO), her goal is to keep promoting a powerful international platform where basic knowledge can be strengthened and transformed into products to be used for marine ecosystems and sustainable development.

At KAUST, her research addresses the diversity, ecological role and biotechnological potential of microorganisms associated with marine organisms from the Red Sea. She also seeks to investigate how these microbiomes can be used as models and sources to explore and understand key symbiotic mechanisms promoting the host's resistance and resilience against different impacts, as part of her projects on coral reef protection, restoration and rehabilitation.

Research group website

Selected Publications

  • Coral microbiome manipulation elicits metabolic and genetic restructuring to mitigate heat stress and evade mortality. Santoro, E.P., Borges, R., Espinoza, J.L….Voolstra, C.R., Peixoto, R.S. Science Advances 7, 2021.
  • Host under epigenetic control: A novel perspective on the interaction between microorganisms and corals. Barno, A. R., Villela, H. D. M., Aranda, M., Thomas, T. & Peixoto, R. S. Bioessays e2100068, 2021.
  • Coral Probiotics: Premise, promise, prospects. Peixoto, R.S.; Sweet, M.; Villela, H.D.M.; Cardoso, P.; Thomas, T.; Voolstra, C.; Hoj, L.; Bourne, D. Annual Review in Animal Bioscience 2021. 9:X-X, doi.org/10.1146/annurev-animal-090120-115444
  • Marine Probiotics: Increasing coral resilience to bleaching through microbiome manipulation. Magalhães-Rosado, P.; Leite, D.; Duarte, G.A.; Jospin, G.; Eisen, J.; Chaloub, R.M., Bourne, D., Peixoto, R.S. The ISME Journal doi: 10.1038/s41396-018-0323-6. 2019.  *EDITORS CHOICE – THE BEST OF THE ISME JOURNAL 2018 (first published online) and 2019’s most cited papers in Microbiology Springer Nature group.
  • Beneficial Microorganisms for corals (BMC): proposed mechanisms for coral health and resilience. Peixoto, R.S.; Rosado, P.M.; Leite, D.C.A.; Rosado, A.S.; Bourne, D.G. Frontiers in Microbiology 8:341. doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2017.00341., 2017. *Top 3% more views - Frontiers in Microbiology.
  • Broadcast spawning coral Mussismilia hispidac can vertically transfer its associated bacterial core. Leite, D.C.A.; Leão, P.; Garrido, A. G.; Lins, U.; Santos, H.F.; Pires, D.O.; Castro, C.B.; van Elsas, J.D.; Zilberberg, C.; Rosado, A.S.; Peixoto, R.S. Frontiers in Microbiology, 8:176. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2017.00176, 2017.
  • Oil spills impact on coral reefs can be reduced by bioremediation using coral probiotic microbiota. Santos, H. F., Duarte, G.; Rachid, C.; Chaloub, R.; Calderon, E.; Bianchini, A.; Marangoni, L.; Nudi, A.; Carmo, F. L.; van Elsas, J. D.; Rosado, A. S.; Castro, C. B.; Peixoto, R. S. Scientific Reports 5: 18268, 2015.
  • A Novel Marine Mesocosm Facility to Study Global Warming, Water Quality, and Ocean Acidification. Duarte, G.; Calderon, E. N.; Santos, H. F.; Marangoni, L.; Marques, J.; Peixoto, R. S.; Macedo, C.; Bianchini, A.; Castro, C. B. Ecology and Evolution 5, 4555–4566, 2015.
  • Climate Change Affects Key Nitrogen Fixing Bacterial Populations on Coral Reefs. Santos, H. F.; Carmo, F. L.; Duarte, G; Dini Andreote, F.; Castro, C; Rosado, A. S.; Elsas, J. D. V.; Peixoto, R. S. The ISME Journal, 8: 2272-2279, 2014.


  • ​Ph.D., Microbiology, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Institute for Microbiology, with partial completion at Julius Khün Institute, Germany, 2005
  • M.Sc., Biotechnology and Bioprocesses, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 2001
  • B.Sc., Biology, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Institute for Biology, Brazil, 1998

Professional Profile

  • ​2017-2020: Visiting Professor at the University of California, Davis, hosted by Prof. Jonathan Eisen
  • 2012-2020: Associate Professor at Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • 2011-2012: Assistant Professor (tenure-track) at the University of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Scientific and Professional Membership

  • Member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the G-20 Coral Research and Development Accelerator Platform (CORDAP)
  • Co-Leader of the International Coral Reef Society (ICRS)’s delegation at Cop 26 (United Nations)
  • Specialty Chief Editor Frontiers in Marine Science – Coral Reef Research
  • Councilor International Coral Reef Society (ICRS)
  • Co-Chair of the Coral Conservation Committee of the International Coral Reef Society (ICRS)
  • Scientific Advisor – Seed Probiotics
  • International Coral Reef Society (ICRS)
  • International Society for Microbial Ecology (ISME)
  • Research Associate at AquaRio (Rio de Janeiro Marine Aquarium, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
  • Biosphere 2 Ocean (University of Arizona, USA) partner


  • Elected Member of the International Coral Reef Society Council 2021-2024
  • ​“Outstanding Women in Science” (category: Researchers) IMPPG/Brazil – Organized by the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) 
  • The Great Barrier Reef Foundation/Tiffany & Co. – “Out of The Blue Box” Challenge –Winner of the People’s Choice Award – “Solution to save Coral Reefs” to increase coral resilience through the use of Coral Probiotics;
  • 2019’s most cited papers in Microbiology Springer Nature group The ISME Journal, Rosado, et al., 2019 (first published on 2018, online);
  • Editors’ Choice – The best of 2019 - FEMS Microbiology Ecology Lopez, J.V., Peixoto, R.S., Rosado, A.S., 2019;
  • Editors’ Choice – The best of 2018 – The ISME Journal, Rosado, et al., 2019 (first published on 2018, online);
  • Editors’ Choice – The best of 2019 – The ISME Journal, Rosado, et al., 2019 
  • The Springer Nature Ecology Stars: Influential journal articles in ecology- The ISME Journal, Rosado, et al., 2019 
  • The best PhD Thesis of 2005 – Raquel Peixoto - Brazilian Research Division (CAPES “Primeiro Prêmio Capes de Tese – Menção Honrosa)

KAUST Affiliations

  • ​​Red Sea Research Center (RSRC)
  • Biological and Environmental Science and Engineering Division (BESE)

Research Interests Keywords

Microbial ecology Environmental microbiology Marine Probiotics Beneficial Microorganisms for Corals (BMCs) Resilience Coral restoration Global change ​Microbiology