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Coral disease and health workshop: Coral histopathology II, July 12-14, 2005

December 1, 2006

The health and continued existence of coral reef ecosystems are threatened by an increasing array of environmental and anthropogenic impacts. Coral disease is one of the prominent causes of increased mortality among reefs globally, particularly in the Caribbean. Although over 40 different coral diseases and syndromes have been reported worldwide, only a few etiological agents have been confirmed; most pathogens remain unknown and the dynamics of disease transmission, pathogenicity and mortality are not understood. Causal relationships have been documented for only a few of the coral diseases, while new syndromes continue to emerge. Extensive field observations by coral biologists have provided substantial documentation of a plethora of new pathologies, but our understanding, however, has been limited to descriptions of gross lesions with names reflecting these observations (e.g., black band, white band, dark spot). To determine etiology, we must equip coral diseases scientists with basic biomedical knowledge and specialized training in areas such as histology, cell biology and pathology. Only through combining descriptive science with mechanistic science and employing the synthesis epizootiology provides will we be able to gain insight into causation and become equipped to handle the pending crisis.

One of the critical challenges faced by coral disease researchers is to establish a framework to systematically study coral pathologies drawing from the field of diagnostic medicine and pathology and using generally accepted nomenclature. This process began in April 2004, with a workshop titled Coral Disease and Health Workshop: Developing Diagnostic Criteria co-convened by the Coral Disease and Health Consortium (CDHC), a working group organized under the auspices of the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force, and the International Registry for Coral Pathology (IRCP). The workshop was hosted by the U.S. Geological Survey, National Wildlife Health Center (NWHC) in Madison, Wisconsin and was focused on gross morphology and disease signs observed in the field. A resounding recommendation from the histopathologists participating in the workshop was the urgent need to develop diagnostic criteria that are suitable to move from gross observations to morphological diagnoses based on evaluation of microscopic anatomy.

As a continuation of building the foundation and framework for coral disease diagnostics, the CDHC convened the Coral Disease and Health Workshop: Coral Histopathology II in Charleston, South Carolina, July 11-14, 2005. The workshop was hosted by the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC which provided expertise, facilities and equipment in support of the workshop. All of the histological slides and related photographs used in the discussions were prepared and supplied by the IRCP. This workshop brought together 15 experts in veterinary and medical pathology and coral biology from national and international research institutes and government laboratories. The mission was to devise a standardized approach to examining microscopic anatomy and pathology of corals and a standardized nomenclature to facilitate accurate descriptions of the microscopic morphology of corals and enhance communication among specialists investigating causes of coral death. 2

The participants of this workshop deliberated for 3 days to refine the nomenclature for gross and microscopic anatomy of corals and systematically described microscopic changes associated with selected coral diseases. The findings and recommendations from the deliberations will be submitted to the research community for peer review. The standardized nomenclature and descriptions produced at this workshop will ultimately be made available to the scientific community through a variety of media including the World Wide Web.

An exciting highlight of this meeting was provided by Professor Robert Ogilvie (MUSC Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy) when he introduced participants to a new digital technology that is revolutionizing histology and histopathology in the medical field. The Virtual Slide technology creates digital images of histological tissue sections by computer scanning actual slides in high definition and storing the images for retrieval and viewing. Virtual slides now allow any investigator with access to a computer and the web to view, search, annotate and comment on the same tissue sections in real time. Medical and veterinary slide libraries across the country are being converted into virtual slides to enhance biomedical education, research and diagnosis. The coral health and disease researchers at this workshop deem virtual slides as a significant way to increase capabilities in coral histology and a means for pathology consultations on coral disease cases on a global scale. 

Citation Information

Publication Year 2005
Title Coral disease and health workshop: Coral histopathology II, July 12-14, 2005
Authors S. B. Galloway, Cheryl M. Woodley, S. M. McLaughlin, Thierry M. Work, V. S. Bochsler, Carol U. Meteyer, Louis Sileo, E. C. Peters, E. Kramarsky-Winters, J. Frank Morado, P. G. Parnell, D. S. Rotstein, R. A. Harely, T. L. Reynolds
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype Federal Government Series
Series Title NOAA Technical Memorandum
Series Number NOS NCCOS 56 and CRCP 4
Index ID 70159651
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization National Wildlife Health Center

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