Biological Oceanography Lab
Research Group Website


Current Research

​Detection of Lysogens in natural populations of the Red Sea Cyanobacteria Synechococcus
The increasing anthropogenic interference like industrialization, coastal infrastructure development and oil pollution from shipping industry has made expeditious change in the marine ecosystem of the Red Sea. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), components of crude oil, enter to marine organisms in areas receiving chronic hydrocarbons discharges. PAHs contamination is of huge concern due to its mutagenic and carcinogenic properties, environmental persistence, and bioaccumulation. We undertake an investigation on various aspects of PAHs toxicity in the marine food web of Red Sea through a combined approach of microscopic, fluorometric and molecular techniques.​​​​​​
​The success of any organism in the world's oceans is determined by the capability to persist under variable environmental stresses. A key stressor is light and in particular the short-waved ultraviolet spectrum, which can cause significant damage or mortality to phytoplankton and benthic reef primary producers (Boelen et al., 2002, Agusti and Llabres, 2007, Llabres and Agusti, 2010, Godoy et al., 2012)
​The Red Sea has unique physical and in particular optical properties amongst the global oceans and seas. Due to the arid climate in bordering countries there are no major river catchments flowing into the Red Sea, hence only minor amounts of allochthonous nutrient-rich, light-attenuating sediment is being added. Consequently, the Red Sea is one of the most ultra-oligotrophic seas in the world with very little biomass ( < 0.8 mg Chl l-1), which is being dominated by picophytoplankton including the cyanobacteria Synechococcus and Prochlorococcus (Lindell and Post, 1995).
The project is to investigate the pathway and the amount of PAHs transported into different levels of food webs (e.g. phytoplankton, corals) within marine tropical area. The study can help to understand the pollutant transport mechanisms and can benefit the local decision makers to set environmental benchmarks to regulate the discharges of pollutants, since Saudi Arabia is one of the largest oil producing countries in the world where the risk of PAHs contamination could be possibly higher than other regions
​Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are a family of persistent organic chemicals which contaminate the environment, mainly present as oil spill contaminants. They elicit toxic responses in a wide range of aquatic organisms. Microalgae which form the base of several marine food webs are particularly susceptible to exposure to PAHs. Furthermore, as microalgae lack metabolic apparatus to eliminate PAHs from their systems, they could contribute to the transfer of these chemicals across the food chain. 
​​In the framework of the current project, we examine the effect of multiple environmental stressors (e.g. T, UV, PAHs) on a key zooplankton group, copepods. ​
​Here in the biological oceanography group, we are currently performing measurements of phytoplankton primary production and plankton metabolism to determine its spatial and temporal variability along the Red Sea​​​​
Assess the biomass and viability of microphytoplankton communities in the Red Sea and its transport to the deep Red Sea (2000m) ​​​
Dinoflagellates constitute an important role in the primary productivity of the world oceans, with numerous species have been identified responsible for harmful algal blooms (HABs) and poisoning events in coastal areas. Although, studies of marine dinoflagellates, their distributions and harmful effects are increasing worldwide, little is known about the biodiversity of dinoflagellate assemblages in the Saudi Arabian Red Sea, especially the benthic and toxic forms. ​​​​
​We are exploring thermal adaptations and thermal limits of phytoplankton from the Red Sea. To do so, we employ both long-term and short-term experimentation.​​​​​​​