Thermal and sedimentation stress are unlikely causes of brown spot syndrome in the coral reef sponge, Ianthella basta

Luter, Heidi M., Whalan, Steve, and Webster, Nicole S. (2012) Thermal and sedimentation stress are unlikely causes of brown spot syndrome in the coral reef sponge, Ianthella basta. PLoS ONE, 7 (6). e39779. pp. 1-9.

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Background: Marine diseases are being increasingly linked to anthropogenic factors including global and local stressors. On the Great Barrier Reef, up to 66% of the Ianthella basta population was recently found to be afflicted by a syndrome characterized by brown spot lesions and necrotic tissue.

Methodology/Principal Findings: Manipulative experiments were undertaken to ascertain the role of environmental stressors in this syndrome. Specifically, the effects of elevated temperature and sedimentation on sponge health and symbiont stability in I. basta were examined. Neither elevated temperature nor increased sedimentation were responsible for the brown spot lesions, but sponges exposed to 32°C developed substantial discoloration and deterioration of their tissues, resulting in death after eight days and a higher microbial diversity in those samples. No shifts in the microbial community of I. basta were observed across a latitudinal gradient or with increased sedimentation, with three previously described symbionts dominating the community of all sponges (Alphaproteobacteria, Gammaproteobacteria and Thaumarchaea).

Conclusions/Significance: Results from this study highlight the stable microbial community of I. basta and indicate that thermal and sedimentation stress are not responsible for the brown spot lesions currently affecting this abundant and ecologically important sponge species.

Item ID: 22951
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1932-6203
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© 2012 Luter et al. 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

Date Deposited: 15 Aug 2012 05:38
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060201 Behavioural Ecology @ 100%
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