Dynamics of a temperature-related coral disease outbreak

Jones, R. J., Bowyer, J. C., Hoegh-Guldberg, I.O. and Blackall, L. L. (2004) Dynamics of a temperature-related coral disease outbreak. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 281 63-77. doi:10.3354/meps281063

Author Jones, R. J.
Bowyer, J. C.
Hoegh-Guldberg, I.O.
Blackall, L. L.
Title Dynamics of a temperature-related coral disease outbreak
Journal name Marine Ecology Progress Series   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0171-8630
Publication date 2004-11-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.3354/meps281063
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 281
Start page 63
End page 77
Total pages 15
Editor Otto Kinne
Place of publication Oldendorf, Germany
Publisher Inter-Research
Collection year 2004
Language eng
Abstract During the austral summer of 2001/2002, a coral epizootic occurred almost simultaneously with a bleaching event on the fringing reefs of Magnetic Island (Great Barrier Reef region), Australia. This resulted in a 3- to 4-fold increase in the mean percentage of partial mortality rate in a population of the hard coral Montipora aequituberculata. The putative disease state, ‘atramentous necrosis’, was observed on both bleached and normally-pigmented M. aequituberculata, and presented blackened lesions that spread within days across the colony surface and throughout the population. Diseased portions of the corals were only visible for 3 to 4 wk, with diseased tissues becoming covered in sediment and algae, which rapidly obscured evidence of the outbreak. Diseased colonies were again observed in the summer of 2002/2003 after being absent over the 2002 winter. Analysis of when diseased and bleached corals were first observed, and when and where the mortality occurred on individual colonies, indicated virtually all the mortality over the summer could be attributed to the disease and not to the bleaching. Fluorescence in situ hybridisation (FISH) techniques and cloning, and analysis of the 16S rRNA genes from diseased coral tissue, identified a mixed microbial assemblage in the diseased tissues particularly within the Alphaproteobacteria, Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes. While it is not possible in this study to distinguish between a disease-causing microbial community versus secondary invaders, the bacterial 16S rDNA sequences identified within the blackened lesions demonstrated high similarity to sequences from black band disease and white plague infected corals, suggesting either common aetiological agents or development of a bacterial community that is specific to degrading coral tissues. Temperature-induced coral disease outbreaks, with the potential for elevated levels of mortality, may represent an added problem for corals during the warmer summer months and an added dimension to predicted increases in water temperature from climate change.
Keyword Coral bleaching
Black band disease
Atramentous necrosis
Great Barrier Reef
Q-Index Code C1

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Created: Wed, 15 Aug 2007, 05:00:05 EST