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Centre for

Marine Biodiversity and Biotechnology

From the shoreline to the deep ocean, tackling issues from pure ecology
and physiology to aquaculture, marine spatial planning and conservation.

Afiq Modh Famhi

Afiq's project: Marine microbial response to oil pollution in future ocean conditions.

Afiq Mohd Fahmi is a PhD student funded by Universiti Malaysia Terengganu interested in studying the synergistic effects of ocean acidification and warming on microbial communities affected by oil pollution. Due to their diversity and large distribution across the ocean, phytoplankton play an important role in regulating and fixing carbon in the atmosphere and are key players of the marine food web. Recent studies have shown that the surface of phytoplankton; phycosphere, harbours bacteria communities responsible for hydrocarbon degradation.

Projected increase in atmospheric CO2 levels have been shown to alter ocean conditions and seawater chemistry such as temperature rise and reduced pH, thus potentially affecting selection and distribution of marine microbes responsible for crude oil degradation. Despite stricter regulations and preventative measures, ongoing oil exploration is expanding to polar regions thus increasing risk of oil pollution in the marine environment. Although marine microbes possess the flexibility to accommodate changes in seawater pH and acclimate to changing conditions, variation in selection pressure between geographical locations in addition to environmental stressors may affect biodiversity of microbial communities creating a bottom-up effect on the marine ecosystem.  Therefore, this study aims to investigate the biological response of phytoplankton and their associated bacteria to oil pollution in future ocean conditions to assess detrimental impacts it may have on the local ecosystem.