Characterisation of the bacterial and fungal communities associated with different lesion sizes of Dark Spot Syndrome occurring in the Coral Stephanocoenia intersepta
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AbstractThe number and prevalence of coral diseases/syndromes are increasing worldwide. Dark Spot Syndrome (DSS) afflicts numerous coral species and is widespread throughout the Caribbean, yet there are no known causal agents. In this study we aimed to characterise the microbial communities (bacteria and fungi) associated with DSS lesions affecting the coral Stephanocoenia intersepta using nonculture molecular techniques. Bacterial diversity of healthy tissues (H), those in advance of the lesion interface (apparently healthy AH), and three sizes of disease lesions (small, medium, and large) varied significantly (ANOSIM R = 0.052 p,0.001), apart from the medium and large lesions, which were similar in their community profile. Four bacteria fitted into the pattern expected from potential pathogens; namely absent from H, increasing in abundance within AH, and dominant in the lesions themselves. These included ribotypes related to Corynebacterium (KC190237), Acinetobacter (KC190251), Parvularculaceae (KC19027), and Oscillatoria (KC190271). Furthermore, two Vibrio species, a genus including many proposed coral pathogens, dominated the disease lesion and were absent from H and AH tissues, making them candidates as potential pathogens for DSS. In contrast, other members of bacteria from the same genus, such as V. harveyii were present throughout all sample types, supporting previous studies where potential coral pathogens exist in healthy tissues. Fungal diversity varied significantly as well, however the main difference between diseased and healthy tissues was the dominance of one ribotype, closely related to the plant pathogen, Rhytisma acerinum, a known causal agent of tar spot on tree leaves. As the corals’ symbiotic algae have been shown to turn to a darker pigmented state in DSS (giving rise to the syndromes name), the two most likely pathogens are R. acerinum and the bacterium Oscillatoria, which has been identified as the causal agent of the colouration in Black Band Disease, another widespread coral disease.
CitationCharacterisation of the Bacterial and Fungal Communities Associated with Different Lesion Sizes of Dark Spot Syndrome Occurring in the Coral Stephanocoenia intersepta 2013, 8 (4):e62580 PLoS ONE