Cyanobacterial mats are found at various locations along the coast of the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. Those mats were affected by severe oil pollution following 1991 oil spill. In this study, samples from Abu Ali Island were collected at three selected sampling sites across the intertidal zone (Lower, Middle, and Upper) in order to understand the effect of extreme environmental conditions of high salinity, temperature and desiccation on distribution of cyanobacteria along the oil polluted intertidal zone. Our investigation of composition of cyanobacteria and diatoms was carried out using light microscopy, and Denaturant Gradient Gel Electrophoresis (DGGE) technique. Light microscopy identification revealed dominant cyanobacteria to be affiliated with genera Phormidium, Microcoleus, and Schizothrix, and to a lesser extent with Oscillatoria, Halothece, and various diatom species. The analysis of DGGE of PCR-amplified 16S rRNA fragments showed that the diversity of cyanobacteria decreases as we proceed from the lower to the upper intertidal zone. Accordingly, the tidal regime, salinity, elevated ambient air temperature, and desiccation periods have a great influence on the distribution of cyanobacterial community in the oil polluted intertidal zone of Abu Ali Island.
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