Daffne C. López-Sandoval




Building 2, Level 3, 3216-WS17 📞Tel: + 966 (12) 808 2659


​My principal research interests lie in the field of microbial plankton (mostly phytoplankton) ecology, physiology and its biogeochemical role from the individual to community level in marine systems. I’ve worked on the relationship of phytoplankton metabolism and its relation to cell size. I measured metabolic rates such as respiration, exudation and carbon fixation of different marine phytoplankton species during different growth phases. This work allowed me to investigate to which extent the size-scaling of phytoplankton metabolism is dependent on the physiological state of the populations, as well as to identify differences between taxonomic groups in the growth phase-dependent dynamics of metabolic rates. Recently my work has been focused on the effect of oxidative stress (due to N-limited cells or UVB light) over the production of DMS(P) and also over the percentage of extracellular release of organic carbon in phytoplankton cultures and natural communities. The objective of my ongoing research in KAUST is to measure situ metabolic rates in the Red Sea plankton communities, characterize its variability and explore the effect of different stressors (e.g., UVB, nutrient limitation, virus infection) over photosynthetic rates (carbon fixation and exudation).  

Research Interests

Phytoplankton ecology, Exudation, dissolved and particulate primary production, PER, UVB, nutrient limitation, 14C, 13C

Selected Publications

  • López-Sandoval, D.C., A. Delgado-Huertas, P. Carrillo-de-Albornoz, C.M. Duarte S. Agusti. Use of cavity ring-down spectrometry to quantify 13C- primary productivity in oligotrophic waters. Limnology and Oceanography: Methods, 17: 137-144 (2019)
  • López-Sandoval, D.C., A. Delgado-Huertas and S. Agusti. The 13C method as a robust alternative to 14C-based measurements of primary productivity in the Mediterranean Sea. Journal of plankton research, 40: 544-554 (2018)
  • Marañón E, Balch WM, Cermeño P, González N, Sobrino C, Fernández A, Huete-Ortega M, López-Sandoval DC, Delgado M, Estrada M, Álvarez M, Fernández-Guallart E, Pelejero C. Coccolithophore calcification is independent of carbonate chemistry in the tropical ocean. Limnology and Oceanography, doi: 10.1002/lno.10295 (2016) 
  • López-Sandoval, DC., Rodríguez-Ramos T., Cermeño P., Sobrino C., Marañón E. Photosynthesis and respiration in marine phytoplankton. Relationship with cell size, taxonomic affiliation and growth phase. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 457: 151-159. (2014).
  • López-Sandoval, DC., Rodríguez-Ramos T., Cermeño P. & Marañón E. "Cell size- and taxon-dependence of organic carbon exudation in marine phytoplankton." Marine Ecology Progress Series 477: 53-60 (2013).
  • Marañón, E. ,Cermeño P., López‐Sandoval DC., Rodríguez‐Ramos T., Sobrino C., Huete‐Ortega M., Blanco J. M. & Rodríguez J. "Unimodal size scaling of phytoplankton growth and the size dependence of nutrient uptake and use." Ecology Letters. 16: 371-379. (2013).
  • López-Sandoval, DC. , Fernández A.& Marañón E. "Dissolved and particulate primary production along a longitudinal gradient in the Mediterranean Sea." Biogeosciences 8(3): 815-825. (2011)


  • Ph.D., Ecology of organisms and Ecosystem, Universidad de Vigo, Spain, 2013
  • M.Sc., Marine Ecology, CICESE, México, 2007
  • B.Sc., Oceanography, Universidad de Colima, México, 2003

Professional Profile

  • 2015 - present: Postdoctoral fellow, KAUST, Thuwal, Saudi Arabia
  • 2013 - 2015: Postdoctoral fellow, ICM-CSIC, Barcelona, Spain

Scientific and Professional Membership

​Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnologia (SNI I), México

KAUST Affiliations

​Red Sea Research Center (RSRC)