Xosé Anxelu G. Morán

Principal Investigator
Associate Professor of Marine Science


As a microbial ecologist and biological oceanographer, I have focused on the role of marine microbial plankton in biogeochemical carbon cycling. My research interests include the trophic relationships between phytoplankton and heterotrophic prokaryotes (bacteria and archaea), their interactions with dissolved organic matter, the long-term dynamics of planktonic microorganisms  and their response to global change, with particular emphasis on warming using the metabolic ecology framework. I combine experimental approaches with in situ observations across spatial and temporal gradients, with the ultimate goal of predicting the future direction and extent of change in the structure and functioning of marine microbial food webs.

Research Interests

Microbial Ecology, Marine Microbiology, Marine Biogeochemistry, Biological Oceanography, Plankton, Pelagic Ecosystems, Carbon Fluxes, Global Change

Selected Publications

Temperature regulation of marine heterotrophic prokaryotes increases latitudinally as a breach between bottom-up and top-down controls. X.A.G. Morán, J.M. Gasol, M. Pernice, J.-F. Mangot, R. Massana, E. Lara, D. Vaqué, C.M. Duarte . Global Change Biology, 23, 3956-3964, (2017).

Large plankton enhance heterotrophy under experimental warming in a temperate coastal ecosystem. T.M. Huete-Stauffer, N. Arandia-Gorostidi, N. González-Benítez, L. Díaz-Pérez, A. Calvo-Díaz, X.A.G. Morán. Ecosystems, in press, (2018).

Testing the metabolic theory of ecology with marine bacteria: different temperature-sensitivity of major phylogenetic groups during the spring phytoplankton bloom. N. Arandia-Gorostidi, T. M. Huete-Stauffer, L. Alonso-Sáez, X.A.G. Morán . Environmental Microbiology, 19, 4493-4505, (2017).

More, smaller bacteria in response to ocean’s warming? X.A.G. Morán, L. Alonso-Sáez, E. Nogueira, H.W. Ducklow, N. González, Á. López-Urrutia, L. Díaz-Pérez, A. Calvo-Díaz, N. Arandia-Gorostidi, T.M. Huete-Stauffer. Proceedings of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences, 282, 20150371, (2015).

The hidden seasonality of the rare biosphere in coastal marine bacterioplankton. L. Alonso-Sáez, L. Díaz-Pérez, X.A.G. Morán Environmental Microbiology, 17, 3766-3780, (2015).

Increasing importance of small phytoplankton in a warmer ocean. X.A.G. Morán, Á. López-Urrutia, A. Calvo-Díaz, W.K.W. Li Global Change Biology, 16, 1137–1144, (2010).

Microbial growth in the polar oceans — role of temperature and potential impact of climate change. D.L. Kirchman, X.A.G. Morán, H. Ducklow
Nature Microbiology Reviews, 7, 451-459, (2009).

Empirical leucine-to-carbon conversion factors for estimating bacterial heterotrophic production: seasonality and predictability in a temperate coastal ecosystem. A. Calvo-Díaz, X.A.G. Morán. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 75, 3216–3221, (2009).

Resource limitation of bacterial production distorts the temperature dependence of oceanic carbon cycling. Á. López-Urrutia, X.A.G. Morán 
Ecology, 88, 817-822 (2007).

Dissolved primary production and the strength of phytoplankton-bacterioplankton coupling in contrasting marine regions. X.A.G. Morán, M. Estrada, J.M. Gasol, C. Pedrós-AlióMicrobial Ecology, 44, 217-223, (2002).


Ph.D., Biology, Univ. Oviedo/Uviéu, Spain, 1999
B.Sc., Biology, Univ. Oviedo/Uviéu, Spain, 1992

Professional Profile

​2014-present: Associate Professor, KAUST, Thuwal, Saudi Arabia
2001-2014: Senior Research Scientist, IEO, Gijón/Xixón, Spain
2000-2001: Postdoctoral Fellow, ICM-CSIC, Barcelona, Spain

Scientific and Professional Memberships

​Association for the Advancement of the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO)

KAUST Affiliations

​Red Sea Research Center (RSRC)
Biological and Environmental Science and Engineering Division (BESE)