Selection of mesophotic habitats by Oculina patagonica in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea following global warming

    The tempered coral Oculina patagonica that live in the Mediterranean Sea uses photosynthesis and predation as its food sources. This coral can be found in the western Mediterranean as well in the eastern Mediterranean, but, until recently it was found only in the shallow water of less than 10m. The water temperatures in the Mediterranean increase from west to east while the temperatures in the west Mediterranean range between 14-240c in the eastern Mediterranean the temperature range between 16-310c. Global warming increased the water temperature in the eastern Mediterranean by 30c in the past three decades. That increase brought the coral Oculina patagonica to its maximum temperature tolerance. Recently we discovered that this coral can also be found in the eastern Mediterranean at 30m depth. The water temperature at that depth is cooler by two degrees in the summertime. We think that the coral has migrated to this depth to avoid the heat stress of the shallow water of the eastern Mediterranean Sea. We checked what adaptation it required from the coral and tested some physiological and nutritional aspects. We did not find differences between the shallow and deep coral colonies Physiology. Their nutrition is the same and they acquire the same proportion of energy from predation and photosynthesis. In contrast to the western Mediterranean where the coral lives in the shallow water exposed to the sun in the eastern Mediterranean in the shallow water, they live in a low light area. We think that this fact facilitated their movement to the deeper water where the light intensity is lower but the coral grows exposed to the light. Therefore, coral in the eastern Mediterranean shallow and deep water gets the same amount of light at both depths.

    X-ray Spectroscopic Quantification of Phosphorus Transformation in Saharan Dust during Trans-Atlantic Dust Transport


    Saharan dust is an important phosphorus (P) supply to remote and oligotrophic parts of the oceans and American lowland tropical rainforests. Phosphorus speciation in aeolian dust ultimately controls the release and bioavailability of P after dust deposition, but the speciation in Saharan dust and its change during the trans-Atlantic transport remains unclear. Using P K-edge X-ray absorption near edge structure (XANES) spectroscopy, we showed that with increasing dust traveling distance from the Sahara Desert to Cape Verde and to Puerto Rico, about 570 and 4000 km, respectively, the proportion of Ca-bound P (Ca-P), including both apatite and non-apatite forms, decreased from 68–73% to 50–71% and to 21–37%. The changes were accompanied by increased iron/aluminum-bound P proportion from 14–25% to 23–46% and to 44–73%, correspondingly. Laboratory simulation experiments suggest that the changes in P speciation can be ascribed to increasing degrees of particle sorting and atmospheric acidification during dust transport. The presence of relatively soluble non-apatite Ca-P in the Cape Verde dust but not in the Puerto Rico dust is consistent with the higher P water solubility of the former than the latter. Our findings provide insights into the controls of atmospheric processes on P speciation, solubility, and stability in Saharan dust.



    The COST Action SEAWHEAT is kicking off today in a virtual setting with the administrators in Brussels, and the Management Committee chose over the past few months. The network is titled: 
    The innovative network has come to fruition through a lot of hard work by Professor Muki Shpigel and Dr Leigh Livne of MKMRS - it can be best described numerically!
    1. 2 (plus!) years of planning and writing
    2. 86 collaborators across Europe and abroad
    3. 2 submissions
    4. 1 rejection!
    5. 4 years of grant funding
    We wish you the best of luck!
    image 1
    Speed FluorIS

    New article published!

    Coral recruitment represents a key element for coral reef persistence and resilience in the face of environmental disturbances. Studying coral recruitment patterns is fundamental for assessing reef health and implementing appropriate management strategies in an era of climate change. The FluorIS system has been developed to acquire high resolution, wide field-of-view (FOV) in situ images of coral recruits fluorescence and has proven successful in shallow reef environments. However, up to now, its applicability to mesophotic coral ecosystems remains unknown due to the complexity of the system and the limited time available when working at mesophotic depth. In this study we optimized the FluorIS system by utilizing a single infrared-converted camera instead of the bulkier regular dual-camera system, substantially reducing the system complexity and significantly decreasing the acquisition time to an average of 10 s for a set of 3 images. Moreover, the speed-FluorIS system is much more economical, decreasing the cost of the full set-up by roughly 40% compared to the original dual-camera system. We tested the utility of the speed-FluorIS by surveying coral recruits across shallow and mesophotic reefs of the Red Sea (Gulf of Eilat) and Bermuda, two of the most northerly reefs in the world with markedly different substrate and topography, and demonstrate that the modified system enables fast imaging of fluorescence to study coral recruitment patterns over a broader range of depths and reef topographies than previous fluorescence methods. Our single-camera system represents a valuable, non-invasive and rapid underwater tool which will help standardize surveys and long-term monitoring of coral recruits, contributing to our understanding of these vital and delicate early life stages of corals.


    ICF comp for article




    Antibiotic resistance of bacterial pathogens in marine animals of the Eastern Mediterranean Sea:

    molecular characterization, antibiotic resistance, and virulent genes’ identification

    Marine bacterial pathogens

    Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a global issue that public health is facing nowadays, and its propagation has occurred due to the misuse of antimicrobial medicines for both humans and livestock. This has led to the emergence of antibiotic-resistant zoonotic pathogens through the acquisition of antibiotic- resistance genes (ARGs) that are easily transferable to the microbiota of animals and humans. Sewage is the main transfer source of ARGs in marineenvironments where they persist. ARGs can be transferred to the same or different bacteria species which allows them to adapt to antibiotics. In addition, this transfer occurs between commensal bacteria and pathogens.

    AMR has been reported in numerous marine species, such as invertebrates, sharks, sea turtles, and marine mammals. There is a lack of information regarding the magnitude of AMR bacteria in aquatic organisms at different levels of the trophic web in the Levantine Basin. The aim of our study is two-fold: 1) the identification of the main pathogens of wild marine animals of the Israeli coast and its antibiotic resistance, as well as investigating the co-occurrence of antibiotic resistance, and 2) virulent genes in these pathogens in order to understand the AMR propagation.  To fulfill these goals, we will:

    1) Identify main pathogens of marine animals and water from harbors of the Israeli coast,

    2) Determine antibiotic resistance of the selected marine animal and water isolates through Minimum Inhibitory Concentrations (MICs) and the presence of ARGs,

    3) Identify virulence-associated genes,

    4) Experimentally infect fish with MRA bacteria obtained from water samples which also possess ARGs and virulent genes in order to observe horizontal ARGs acquisition of bacteria. This step is crucial to understand how these antimicrobials affect the pathogen response and identify the environmental reservoirs of resistance that might affect the future capacity to fight infections.

    Those applicants who display initiative, experience in molecular work, ecological background, and general bacteriological knowledge are preferred.

    Most of the work will be done at the Morris Kahn Marine Research Station at Kibbutz Sdot Yam.

    An up-to-date resume, the name of at least one person who is familiar with your academic background, and a transcript of a BSc and MSc degrees should be sent to:

    Dr. Danny Morick, Morris Kahn Marine Research Station, Leon H. Charney School of Marine Sciences, Department of Marine Biology, University of Haifa

    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    Prof. Dan Tchernov, Morris Kahn Marine Research Station, Leon H. Charney School of Marine Sciences, Department of Marine Biology, University of Haifa

    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    antibiotic resistance project

    Congratulations to Prof. Muki Shpigel for being selected to chair a COST Action from this year until 2025!

    The European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST) organization runs an EU-funded program that enables scientists and innovators to link research initiatives, share innovative ideas across multiple science and technology fields and at the same time address social challenges across Europe and beyond.

    Prof. Shpigel, together with Dr. Leigh Livne and Dr. Amir Neori, co-authored the COST Action: ULVA, TOMORROW’S “WHEAT OF THE SEA”, A MODEL FOR INNOVATIVE MARICULTURE. The network counts over 76 participants from 28 countries!

    We are proud to have Prof. Shpigel in our ranks and we wish him and his collaborators the best of luck.

    About SaltyCrops: Products From The Sea-

    Our planet and its resources have sustained humanity for millennia. There are constantly new aspects and places to explore, especially in its watery depths. Scientists are discovering how much potential our seas have to offer. It is only through dedicated research networks and exploration efforts. that we can learn more and more about the flora and fauna in this quickly changing environment. Back on land, our researchers are dedicated to creating sustainable and clean technologies which support: New food sources and new materials for energy, industry and medical use. Our SaltyCrops project, is based on Salicornia, A globally distributed plant which grows in salt water We develop SaltyCrops as a biofilter and a food source



    The Apex Predator Lab begins it's 6th tagging season!

    This year, we will investigate the reproductive status of female sharks at the aggregation hotspot. 
    We are ready to employ new methods and technologies, including ultrasound probes, shark-borne cameras and new satellite transmitters
    and analyse the new types of data using advanced laboratory techniques.
    Stay tuned for updates!
    The rocky reef data base

    The rocky reef habitat of the Israeli coastline is rich, diverse, and abundant in marine resources. It functions as a stable habitat for algae, invertebrates, and fish. We have been conducting Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) on these reefs since 2015. The surveys are conducted from Achziv to Ashkelon and at a depth range from 10 to 45 m. The first thing that we noticed was a greater variability with depth. In the shallow water, the turf algae are dominating the reefs (Sdot Yam 10 m, 99%) and as you go deeper, the algae assemblages (Sdot Yam 45 m, 86%) become more diverse and there are more invertebrates.

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