SPCMSC Research Microbiologist Christina Kellogg and Research Marine Biologist James Evans are participating in a collaborative experiment with scientists at NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML) and other academic colleagues to identify the microbial group associated with SCTLD causation.
SPCMSC Scientists Partner in Collaborative Effort to Identify Cause of Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease (SCTLD)
SCTLD is a devastating disease of corals that has been decimating reefs throughout Florida and the wider Caribbean for the past eight years, yet to date the causative agent remains unknown. USGS researchers Kellogg and Evans are lending expertise to a massive collaborative effort designed to help narrow the list of possible suspect pathogens. Applying a USGS-developed method (linked below), the experiment uses healthy and SCTLD-infected corals within individual mesocosms to acquire normal and disease-associated microbial communities. These microbes are then concentrated via tangential flow filtration, and subsequently sorted into major taxonomic groups (such as bacteria, viruses, and microeukaryotes) using different-sized filters. These filters are then applied to healthy corals to determine which group transmits SCTLD. Kellogg and Evans traveled to Miami in early September to assist with the experiment, and corals are now being monitored by collaborators for the onset of disease symptoms. NOAA AOML scientists intend to perform full-omics sequencing of those filters that successfully transmit disease, which in conjunction with samples preserved for histology and transmission electron microscopy, may help identify the causative agent behind this highly destructive disease.
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