Indirect effects of algae on coral: Algae-mediated, microbe-induced coral mortality

Smith, Jennifer E., Shaw, Morrigan, Edwards, Rob A., Obura, David, Pantos, Olga, Sala, Enric, Sandin, Stuart A., Smriga, Steven, Hatay, Mark and Rohwer, Forest L. (2006) Indirect effects of algae on coral: Algae-mediated, microbe-induced coral mortality. Ecology Letters, 9 7: 835-845. doi:10.1111/j.1461-0248.2006.00937.x

Author Smith, Jennifer E.
Shaw, Morrigan
Edwards, Rob A.
Obura, David
Pantos, Olga
Sala, Enric
Sandin, Stuart A.
Smriga, Steven
Hatay, Mark
Rohwer, Forest L.
Title Indirect effects of algae on coral: Algae-mediated, microbe-induced coral mortality
Journal name Ecology Letters   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1461-023X
Publication date 2006-07
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1111/j.1461-0248.2006.00937.x
Volume 9
Issue 7
Start page 835
End page 845
Total pages 11
Place of publication Oxford, United Kingdom
Publisher Wiley-Blackwell Publishing
Language eng
Subject 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl. Marine Ichthyology)
Abstract Declines in coral cover are generally associated with increases in the abundance of fleshy algae. In many cases, it remains unclear whether algae are responsible, directly or indirectly, for coral death or whether they simply settle on dead coral surfaces. Here, we show that algae can indirectly cause coral mortality by enhancing microbial activity via the release of dissolved compounds. When coral and algae were placed in chambers together but separated by a 0.02 μm filter, corals suffered 100% mortality. With the addition of the broad-spectrum antibiotic ampicillin, mortality was completely prevented. Physiological measurements showed complementary patterns of increasing coral stress with proximity to algae. Our results suggest that as human impacts increase and algae become more abundant on reefs a positive feedback loop may be created whereby compounds released by algae enhance microbial activity on live coral surfaces causing mortality of corals and further algal growth.
Keyword Algae
Coral disease
Coral reef
Dissolved organic carbon
Reef degradation
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Non-UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Excellence in Research Australia (ERA) - Collection
Centre for Marine Studies Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 202 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 210 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Thu, 12 Feb 2009, 14:44:19 EST by Ms Karen Naughton on behalf of Centre for Marine Studies