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

About

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

Description

An OAPGRC-SQU collaborative study to describe and document the biodiversity of diatom assemblages associated with different invertebrates along Omani coasts, including:

  • o Sea urchins
  • o Gastropods
  • o Crustaceans
  • o Bivalves

The 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 comparison with similar specimens collected in other biogeographical regions. In addition to that, diatom species with potential nano-technological application will be selected and culture.

 

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Aims & Objectives

Decrypt and document the hidden biodiversity of diatom assemblages associated with different invertebrates including sea urchins, gastropods, crustaceans and bivalves along Omani coasts​

  •  Establish a genetic and morphological baseline for their identification​

Specifically

  •  Sample of invertebrate specimens (Echinoderms, mostly sea urchins) from Muscat coastal areas
  •  Species identification of epibenthic diatom communities associated with invertebrates by ultrastructural analysis in scanning electron microscopy
  • o Determine the abundance and richness of the species of the epibenthic diatom communities of each sample
  • o Community structure analysis through species classification in different growth forms
  • o Identification and description of diatom taxa new to science
  • o Selection of diatom species with potential nanotechnological application


Methodology/ Phases
  • o Invertebrate specimens (echinoderms, mostly sea urchins) from the Muscat  coast will be collected by divers
  • o During all fieldwork, samples of benthic specimen will be photographed in situ and separated into several groups
  • o 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
Achievements / Impacts / Outcomes 
  • o Specimen sampling
  • o​ Training OAPGRC staff on advanced electron microscopy scanning

Timeframe
















TimeframeTask

September - December 2018

 ​

Sampling of macrofauna specimens

January - December 2019

 

Diatom communities taxonomical & ecological analysis

September - December 2019

 

Culture collection of species with potential nanotech application

January 2020

 

Final Report
Follow upResults of the first electron microscopy scanning of sampled diatoms


​​Project team



Dr Sergey Dobretsov

Center of Excellence in Marine Biotechnology

Sultan Qaboos University


Dr Mario De Stefano

The Second University of Naples


Abdullah Al Balushi

OAPGRC​

Haitham Al Busaidi

OAPGRC