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USGS scientists synthesize data to move Florida coral disease efforts forward

In support of the multi-agency Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease (SCTLD) coordinated response Research and Epidemiology Team and the upcoming virtual technical workshop (May 21–22, and May 27–29), scientists from several USGS centers are actively synthesizing diverse data to provide a roadmap of gaps in the research and also to uncover new information that could help control this disease

A brain coral infected with Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease
A brain coral infected with Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease (SCTLD) in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary in April 2018. (Credit: Ilsa Kuffner, USGS. Public domain.)

As the co-lead for the Pathogen Identification/Microbiome SubTeam, Christina Kellogg (SPCMSC Research Microbiologist) has developed a synthesis diagram of Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease research and results related to identifying the causative agent. She and SubTeam co-lead Stephanie Rosales (NOAA) are also coordinating a working group to conduct a meta-analysis of multiple bacterial surveys of healthy and infected corals. W. Bane Schill and Deborah Iwanowicz (Leetown Science Center) are participating in that working group. Aine Hawthorn (NWHC), a new research fellow, is developing case studies for each affected coral species.

The Florida Reef Tract has been experiencing an outbreak of a coral disease termed Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease (SCTLD). First reported off the coast of Miami-Dade County in 2014, this outbreak has spread along Florida and to reefs in the Caribbean, including Jamaica, Mexico, St. Maarten, the US Virgin Islands, and the Dominican Republic. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is working with dozens of partners from federal, state, and local agencies, non-governmental organizations, universities, and members of the community to investigate and solve this problem.

To read more about Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease, visit: https://floridadep.gov/rcp/coral/content/stony-coral-tissue-loss-disease-response

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