: The rapid urbanization and industrialization of Kuwait and the consequent effluent discharges into marine environments have resulted in a degradation of water and sediment quality in the coastal marine ecosystems such as in the Kuwait Bay. This study investigates the ecological response of benthic foraminifera (protists) to environmental stress in the Kuwait Bay. The traditional morphological approach was compared to the innovative environmental DNA (eDNA) metabarcoding to evaluate the ecological quality status (EcoQS). Forty-six surface sediment samples were collected from selected stations in the Kuwait Bay. To detect the pollution gradient, environmental parameters from water (e.g., salinity, pH, dissolved oxygen) and sediment (e.g., grain-size, trace metals, total organic carbon, total petroleum hydrocarbons) were measured at each station. Although the foraminiferal assemblages were different in the morphological and molecular datasets, the species turnover was congruent and statistically significant. Diversity-based biotic indices derived from both morphological and metabarcoding approaches, reflect the environmental stress gradient (i.e., organic and metal contaminations) in the Kuwait Bay. The lowest values of EcoQS (i.e., bad to poor) are found in the innermost part (i.e., Sulaibikhat Bay and Ras Kazmah), while higher EcoQS values occur in the outer part of the bay. This study constitutes the first attempt to apply the foraminiferal metabarcoding to assess the EcoQS within the Arabian Gulf and presents its advantages compared to the conventional morphological approach.

Benthic foraminifera as proxies for the environmental quality assessment of the Kuwait Bay (Kuwait, Arabian Gulf): Morphological and metabarcoding approaches

Balassi, Eszter;Frontalini, Fabrizio
2022

Abstract

: The rapid urbanization and industrialization of Kuwait and the consequent effluent discharges into marine environments have resulted in a degradation of water and sediment quality in the coastal marine ecosystems such as in the Kuwait Bay. This study investigates the ecological response of benthic foraminifera (protists) to environmental stress in the Kuwait Bay. The traditional morphological approach was compared to the innovative environmental DNA (eDNA) metabarcoding to evaluate the ecological quality status (EcoQS). Forty-six surface sediment samples were collected from selected stations in the Kuwait Bay. To detect the pollution gradient, environmental parameters from water (e.g., salinity, pH, dissolved oxygen) and sediment (e.g., grain-size, trace metals, total organic carbon, total petroleum hydrocarbons) were measured at each station. Although the foraminiferal assemblages were different in the morphological and molecular datasets, the species turnover was congruent and statistically significant. Diversity-based biotic indices derived from both morphological and metabarcoding approaches, reflect the environmental stress gradient (i.e., organic and metal contaminations) in the Kuwait Bay. The lowest values of EcoQS (i.e., bad to poor) are found in the innermost part (i.e., Sulaibikhat Bay and Ras Kazmah), while higher EcoQS values occur in the outer part of the bay. This study constitutes the first attempt to apply the foraminiferal metabarcoding to assess the EcoQS within the Arabian Gulf and presents its advantages compared to the conventional morphological approach.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11576/2709213
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