Unraveling fungi community patterns in Red Sea coral reefs

Unraveling fungi community patterns in Red Sea coral reefs

Internship Description

It is widely known that coral reefs represent one of the most biodiverse ecosystems on Earth. There have been numerous attempts to quantify and evaluate species richness and functional diversity in reef environments. However, the majority of research so far has focused on macro organisms - most likely due to difficulties in evaluating the hidden “cryptobiome” of reefs in a standardized way. The deployment of Autonomous Reed Monitoring Structures (ARMS), in combination with metabarcoding, successfully performed by KAUST scientists in the recent past can be key to identify taxonomic and functional groups of Red Sea coral reefs associated organisms. Studies using ARMS in the Red Sea so far have targeted eukaryotic and bacterial taxa. However, fungal communities that can play critical roles in reef functioning have been overlooked. To close the knowledge gap on fungal communities in Red Sea coral reefs, we are looking for a student (undergraduate or graduate) to investigate the following aspects: (1) Evaluation of fungal community compositions and their spatio-temporal distribution throughout Red Sea ARMS deployment sites, based on metabarcoding data analysis. Which gradients do emerge and how do they relate to environmental variables, such as sea surface temperature?; and (2) How are fungal communities connected to bacterial communities identified by Pearman et al. (2019)?

Deliverables/Expectations

The overall aim of the project is a peer-reviewed publication with the student being the first author​

Faculty Name

Daniele Daffonchio

Student Monthly Allowance

$1,000.00

Field of Study

Coral reef biodiversity and functioning