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First survey of epibentic diatom communities on marine invertebrates from Omani coasts: a taxonomical, ecological and biomimetic analysis.

In spite of the important ecological role played in the food chain worldwide, the biodiversity of diatom communities on invertebrates is still poorly studied and highly underestimated. Moreover, ecological studies on epibenthic diatom communities based on a rigorous taxonomic approach are very rare due to the small size of such organisms.


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

1. To decrypt and document the hidden biodiversity of diatom assemblages associated to different invertebrates including sea urchins, gastropods, crustaceans and bivalves along Omani coasts To establish a genetic and morphological baseline for their identification.

Methodology​Invertebrate specimens (Echinoderms, mostly sea urchins ) from Muscat  coasts will be collected by divers. During all fieldwork, samples of benthic specimen will be photographed in situ and separated into several groups. The ultrastructural analysis in scanning electron microscopy (SEM) will be used for species identification, abundance and species richness of epibenthic diatom communities associated with invertebrates.
Project outputThe project will result in the first data on the biodiversity of Omani epizoic communities in terms of functional classes and species composition and will enable us to compare them with those of similar specimens collected in other biogeographical regions. In addition to that, diatom species with potential nanotechnological application will be selected and culture.
Project durationOne-year, starting from September 2018- September 2019.

Project team


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

Dr. Mario De Stefano (The Second University of Naples)

Abdullah Al-Balushi (OAPGRC)

Haitham Al-Busaidi (OAPGRC)