Coral pathogens identified for white syndrome (WS) epizootics in the Indo-Pacific

Sussman, Meir, Willis, Bette L., Victor, Steven, and Bourne, David G. (2008) Coral pathogens identified for white syndrome (WS) epizootics in the Indo-Pacific. Public Library of Science ONE , 3 (6). pp. 1-14.

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Abstract

Background: White Syndrome (WS), a general term for scleractinian coral diseases with acute signs of advancing tissue lesions often resulting in total colony mortality, has been reported from numerous locations throughout the Indo-Pacific, constituting a growing threat to coral reef ecosystems.

Methodology/Principal Findings: bacterial isolates were obtained from corals displaying disease signs at three WS outbreak sites: Nikko Bay in the Republic of Palau, Nelly Bay in the central Great Barrier Reef (GBR) and Majuro Atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and used in laboratory-based infection trials to satisfy Henle-Koch's postulates, Evan's rules and Hill's criteria for establishing causality. Infected colonies produced similar signs to those observed in the field following exposure to bacterial concentrations of 1×106 cells ml−1. Phylogenetic 16S rRNA gene analysis demonstrated that all six pathogens identified in this study were members of the γ-Proteobacteria family Vibrionacae, each with greater than 98% sequence identity with the previously characterized coral bleaching pathogen Vibrio coralliilyticus. Screening for proteolytic activity of more than 150 coral derived bacterial isolates by a biochemical assay and specific primers for a Vibrio family zinc-metalloprotease demonstrated a significant association between the presence of isolates capable of proteolytic activity and observed disease signs.

Conclusion/Significance: this is the first study to provide evidence for the involvement of a unique taxonomic group of bacterial pathogens in the aetiology of Indo-Pacific coral diseases affecting multiple coral species at multiple locations. Results from this study strongly suggest the need for further investigation of bacterial proteolytic enzymes as possible virulence factors involved in Vibrio associated acute coral infections.

Item ID: 7076
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: coral disease; white syndrome; coral pathogens; Vibrio coralliilyticus; AFDC; marine sciences
Additional Information:

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

ISSN: 1932-6203
Date Deposited: 15 Feb 2010 01:31
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 100%
Citation Count from Web of Science Web of Science 71
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