Overwhelming scientific evidence has emphasized that climate change is a serious global threat driven by human activity and requires a global response. The importance of marine microbial diversity and the involvement of microbes in processes such as the carbon and nitrogen cycles, production and consumption of greenhouse gasses such as carbon dioxide and methane has been highlighted in the past. Qatari marine environment is unique with an unusual harsh and arid climate, which influences sea salinity and temperature, thus influencing the water density and currents. Of economic importance, these waters are heavily influenced through anthropogenic use. Thus, Qatar's marine flora including the exotic phytoplankton and zooplankton species have adapted and developed a tolerance for extreme conditions. However, despite their relevance for ecosystem functioning, little is known about smaller size classes of organisms (bacteria, archaea, protists, fungi) in coastal habitats, their diversity, their distribution, biological interactions and how they cope with environmental changes. Therefore, a QNRF funded study, a first step towards an understanding and protection of the Qatari marine biosphere, established a baseline of microbial life in the waters surrounding Qatar, in order to monitor and react to the effect of global changes in these waters. Our multi-collaboration project established a comprehensive understanding of microbial biodiversity in Qatari coastal waters using the culture and metagenomic approaches. Results will be presented and the future perspectives discussed.

This Research was supported by grant (NPRP-6-647-1-127) from the Qatar National Research Fund (a member of Qatar Foundation) to Rashmi Fotedar, Teun Boekhout, Jack. W. Fell, and Thorsten Stoeck.


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