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Diversity, genetics and biological activities of soft corals Sinularia spp. and Sarcophyton spp. (Octocorallia) in the Gulf of Oman


Octocorals are one of the major components of the benthic, shallow water communities of many, if not most tropical and subtropical marine ecosystems. There are probably around 150-200 species of this order of Cnidarian in the waters of Oman and yet, no inventories, even partial have been published. These octocorals have a huge potential as a source of bioactive compounds, from antifouling to cytotoxic, particularly in the stressed environments.




Project typeCollaborative project between Oman Animal & Plant Genetic Resources Center (OAPGRC) and Sultan Qaboos University (SQU)
Project aims

​1. To evaluate the biological activities of the secondary metabolites of species from the two genera of soft corals (Sinularia spp. and Sarcophyton spp.) inhabiting the shallow water environments of the Sultanate of Oman.

  • 2. To establish a genetic and morphological baseline for their identification.
Methodology​Specimen will be collected around the coral communities near Muscat area. During all field work, samples of soft corals will be photographed in situ and collected by divers and separated into several groups., One portion will be fixed after anesthesia for morphological identification. Other subsamples will be analyzed for sclerite structure using Scanning Electron Microscope. Tissue samples from each soft coral will be used for DNA extraction and species identification by genome wide single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) using Diversity Arrays Technology Sequencing (DArt-seq). The rest of specimens will be extracted using polar and non-polar solvents to obtain secondary metabolites. Extracts will be evaporated and antimicrobial and antifouling activity will be screened
Project output​The project will result in the evaluation of the 7-15 species of soft-corals in genera Sinularia and Sarcophyton inhabiting Oman waters in terms of potential biotechnological activity. The project will also lead to a description and illustration the 7-15 species of soft-corals in these two genera and in the establishment of a reference collection in both the Natural History Museum of Oman and the Oman Plant and Animal Genetic Resource Center.


Project duration​One-year, starting from June 2018-June 2019.


Project team

​Dr. Michel Claereboudt (SQU, Department of Marine Science and Fisheries)

Dr. Sergey Dobretsov (SQU, Center of Excellence in Marine Biotechnology)

Dr. Madjid Delghandi (SQU, Center of Excellence in Marine Biotechnology)

Abdullah Al-Balushi (OAPGRC)

Haitham Al-Busaidi (OAPGRC)