01 January, 2014

Happy New Year :)

Happy New Year from the Voolstra lab. In 2013 Sebastian Baumgarten and Vanessa Robitzch graduated with MSc degree, both continue their scientific career as PhD students in KAUST. Till Bayer left the working group, we wish him a successful future. We published 11 scientific papers and are looking forward to a productive and exciting year 2014.

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20 October, 2013

microRNA in Symbiodinium article highly accessed :)

we are happy to announce that the article is highly accessed! keep reading and citing :)

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17 October, 2013

New Article out: The chloroplast genome of a Symbiodinium sp. clade C3 isolate

This is a good one: In dinoflagellates the plastid genes are located on small plasmids, commonly referred to as 'minicircles'. In this article, we characterized the chloroplast genome from an environmental coral isolate, in this case containing a symbiont belonging to the Symbiodinium sp. clade C3. The gene content of the genome is well conserved with respect to previously characterised genomes. However, unlike previously characterized dinoflagellate chloroplast genomes we did not identify any 'empty' minicircles. The sequences of this chloroplast genome shows a high rate of evolution relative to other algal species. Particularly notable was a surprisingly high level of sequence divergence within the core polypeptides of photosystem I, the reasons for which are currently unknown. This chloroplast genome also possesses distinctive codon usage and GC content. These features suggest that chloroplast genomes in Symbiodinium are highly plastic.

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15 October, 2013

Coral 'White Plague' Epidemic Could Be Caused by Virus

Here I was asked to provide an opinion on a recently published article on '"a 2010 white plague outbreak in the Virgin Islands, (where) researchers analyzed the viruses present in diseased and healthy corals." by Joseph Castro, LiveScience Contributor.

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12 October, 2013

microRNA in Symbiodinium - article out :)

Have a look at our paper that identifies microRNAs in Symbiodinium. It also comes with a massive transcriptome dataset :)

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12 October, 2013

Lessons from the deep Red Sea

The discovery of corals in warm nutrient-poor waters in the Red Sea offers a look at adaption to environmental changes.
by Louise Sarant
The discovery of corals in the warm, deep waters of the Red Sea will help scientists understand how reefs respond to climate change and which genetic and epigenetic adaptations allow them to survive warm temperatures. A team from the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) found six species of corals dwelling between 200 and 800 metres in Red Sea waters, at temperatures exceeding 20C, previously thought too warm to support corals usually found in cooler, shallower waters.
Read more in the link provided!

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09 October, 2013

A Comparative Study of Coral Reef Diseases

"Coral reefs are biodiversity hotspots in the ocean; so they are very important because they sustain a high number of species. Corals are the nurseries for many fish," explained Prof. Christian Voolstra from the KAUST Red Sea Research Center . But over the last decades, marine scientists have observed the decline of healthy coral reefs around the world.
As a paper published in August
by Nature through The ISME Journal, co-authored by Prof. Voolstra and
colleagues from KAUST and Chulalongkorn University in Thailand,
explains: "A major factor contributing to their decline is outbreaks and
propagation of coral diseases."

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03 October, 2013

Deep Sea Corals in the Red Sea

Our manuscript 'First biological measurements of deep-sea corals from the Red Sea' just got published in Scientific Reports. Here we report on the first measurements of biological characters of deep-sea corals from the central Red Sea, where they occur at temperatures exceeding 20C in highly oligotrophic and oxygen-limited waters.
If you are interested, the manuscript is freely accessible at below link.

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01 September, 2013

R/V Thuwal arrives at KAUST :)

King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) has recently acquired Saudi Arabia's first research vessel, the R/V Thuwal.
This vessel will help bolster innovative research and knowledge of this largely unexplored resource at our doorstep, shared President Jean-Lou Chameau. Our scientists and students are now equipped to explore the Red Sea aboard the R/V Thuwal with greater flexibility and access. This new tool will accelerate discoveries in marine science research, enhance teaching opportunities, and strengthen partnerships with industry, governments, and academia.

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29 August, 2013

A journey into the wild of the cnidarian model system Aiptasia and its symbionts

Molecular Ecology 'News and Views' perspective article on a research paper about population genetic data of Aiptasia that reveal remarkable symbiotic specificity and vectored introductions across ocean basins

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08 August, 2013

Bacterial profiling of White Plague Disease in a comparative coral species framework

For those interested in coral disease, please allow me to draw your attention to a new open access article published in the ISME journal about bacterial community structures in healthy and White Plague Diseased coral species.
In our 16S comparative framework analysis, corals displayed species-specific bacterial communities that are different from disease-associated bacteria. Health and disease were as strong a discriminator between colonies as species indicating that bacterial community structure of disease is conserved over coral species boundaries.

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23 July, 2013

Corals and the bacteria within

Are bacteria in corals a middle man between coral host and algal symbiont? Read about corals harboring bacteria inside their cells in the latest NATURE Middle East article.

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08 July, 2013

Corals cozy up with bacterial buddies

​New study shows healthy Red Sea corals carry bacterial communities within​

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04 July, 2013

Postdoctoral Position in Coral Reef Genomics

The laboratory of Christian R Voolstra (reefgenomics.kaust.edu.sa) is seeking a postdoctoral associate in the areas of functional genomics and bioinformatics analysis.
The successful candidate will collaborate as part of a funded framework on establishing gene knockdowns in the photosynthetic dinoflagellate Symbiodinium sp. A1 and subsequent transcriptome- and proteome-wide analysis in regard to functional validation and pathway interactions.
Please navigate to Positions for the full ad!

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27 June, 2013

New Journal Article on and in Biofouling

The effect of substratum colour on the formation of micro- and macro fouling communities was investigated in the Marina Bandar al Rowdha (Muscat, Sea of Oman). The study demonstrates that the colour of the substratum can affect the formation of biofouling communities in short-term experiments. For antifouling screening, darker substrata are recommended, as they promote a higher density of fouling organisms. However, white or light coloured coatings would be preferable to maximise the protection of structures against marine fouling.

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25 June, 2013

New Journal Article on Coral Reef Algae published in PLoS ONE

We are happy to announce our second article under our coral reef monitoring project that looked at 'In-Situ Effects of Simulated Overfishing and Eutrophication on Benthic Coral Reef Algae Growth, Succession, and Composition in the Central Red Sea' .. have fun reading and let us know how you like it! The project was a collaboration between ZMT, Bremen, Germany and KAUST, Saudi Arabia.

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24 May, 2013

Arab News reports on Intel's ISEF

Here's an article from Arab News reporting on Intel's ISEF titled 'Saudi students reap honors in US science fair'. Our SRSI 2012 intern Reem Al Rabiah from Altarbia Alislamia Schools in Riyadh, received the fourth award, worth $ 500 in environmental sciences for her research on the effects of ecological differences on biofilm composition in the Red Sea.

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24 May, 2013

New publication on the coral microbiome

Till Bayer et. al described the microbiome of Stylophora pistillata being dominated by Endozoicomonas bacteria. The bacteria appear to have an intimate relationship with the coral.

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17 May, 2013

Reem succeeds at ISEF

Reem won 4th place at ISEF

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07 May, 2013

Deep sea coral cruise started

Voolstra group and collaborators left for 3 week cruise.

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