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Characterizing lesions in corals from American Samoa

January 1, 2005

The study of coral disease has suffered from an absence of systematic approaches that are commonly used to determine causes of diseases in animals. There is a critical need to develop a standardized and portable nomenclature for coral lesions in the field and to incorporate more commonly available biomedical tools in coral disease surveys to determine the potential causes of lesions in corals. We characterized lesions in corals from American Samoa based on gross and microscopic morphology and classified them as discoloration, growth anomalies, or tissue loss. The most common microscopic finding in corals manifesting discoloration was the depletion of zooxanthellae, followed by necrosis, sometimes associated with invasive algae or fungi. The most common microscopic lesion in corals manifesting tissue loss was cell necrosis often associated with algae, fungi, or protozoa. Corals with growth anomaly had microscopic evidence of hyperplasia of gastrovascular canals, followed by necrosis associated with algae or metazoa (polychaete worms). Several species of apparently normal corals also had microscopic changes, including the presence of bacterial aggregates or crustacea in tissues. A single type of gross lesion (e.g., discoloration) could have different microscopic manifestations. This phenomenon underlines the importance of using microscopy to provide a more systematic description of coral lesions and to detect potential pathogens associated with these lesions.

Publication Year 2005
Title Characterizing lesions in corals from American Samoa
DOI 10.1007/s00338-005-0018-0
Authors Thierry M. Work, Robert A. Rameyer
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Coral Reefs
Index ID 70159650
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization National Wildlife Health Center