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Our main projects are Phytoplankton-Bacteria Symbiosis in Today's Oceans, Harmful Algal Blooms, Coral Holobiont Adaptation to Climate Change, the Biogeochemistry of the Persian/Arabian Gulf, and Mangrove Sediment Diversity in Extreme Environments. Click the headline for each project to read more about them in (scientific) detail, read plain English summaries, and learn about sub-projects.

We are also involved in a number of other collaborative projects including:

 - UAE Healthy Future Study

 - Life and Death of Karenia brevis Blooms in the

    Eastern Gulf of Mexico

 - Chemical currencies of microbial ecosystems

We are supported by:

 - National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration

 - Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation

 - NYUAD Institute

 - Tamkeen

 - United Nations Development Program

 - Center for Chemical Currencies of a

    Microbial Planet


Our lab is also a part of two research centers at NYU Abu Dhabi: Center for Genomics and Systems Biology (CGSB) and Arabian Center for Climate and Environmental Sciences (ACCESS).

Our current sampling locations include: 

 - Abu Dhabi Coast

 - Gulf of Mexico

 - North Sea

 - More to come!

Interactions between the major primary producer in the oceans, phytoplankton, and bacteria constitute one of the most important associations in aquatic ecosystems. These relations influence productivity and fisheries of coastal ecosystems, control carbon fluxes to the deep ocean, play an important role in harmful algal blooms and toxin production by phytoplankton, and contribute to production of cloud seeding gases, such as dimethyl sulfide. We aim to use multi-omics techniques coupled with novel microfluidics and metabolomics approaches to understand the molecular mechanisms that promote these symbiotic relations, how they influence the oceanic ecosystem and their fate in response to climate change.


Karenia brevis is a common species of toxigenic dinoflagellates that blooms annually in the Gulf of Mexico and in other coastal areas around the world. It produces brevetoxin, a potent neurotoxin that negatively affects marine life and human populations in bloom regions. Significant efforts have been invested in predicting the occurrence of these blooms and mitigating their effects; however, we are still unable to accurately predict these events nor prevent them. Our lab aims to understand the influence microbes play in the life cycle of K. brevis and whether biological agents, e.g., algicidal bacteria, can be used to mitigate such blooms. 


Corals depend on multi-partite symbioses with diverse microbiota that influences their fitness and resilience to climate change. We are using an integrated ‘omics approach, including shotgun metagenomics, metatranscriptomics, and metabolomics to better understand the functional responses of the coral holobiont (host and its associated microbiomes) during normal symbiosis and the climate change-induced dysbiosis. Unraveling the molecular mechanisms of coral symbiosis will enable us to target effective strategies to save the collapsing diversity of corals in today’s oceans.

Coral Microbiome.jpeg

Mangrove forests in Abu Dhabi constitute an extreme environment that is exposed to high temperatures, salinity and UV light and shifting tides. The microbial communities of these sediments are a complex ecosystem that plays an important role in cycling carbon and other essential elements. Using meta-omics, we are shedding light on the taxonomic and functional diversity of microbes in these environments and their adaptation mechanisms to this extreme environment.

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