But that's exactly what yellow band disease (YBD) is—a bacterial infection that sickens coral colonies. Researchers at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and colleagues have found that YBD seems to be getting worse with global warming and announced that they've identified the bacteria responsible for the disease.
Just as a doctor can diagnose a child with chicken pox by the small, round bumps on her skin, you can tell a coral with yellow band disease (YBD) by its own characteristic markings. This affliction etches a swath of pale-yellow or white lesions along the surface of an infected coral colony. The discolored band is a mark of death, indicating where the bacterial infection has killed the coral's photosynthetic symbionts, called zooxanthellae. The coral host suffers from cellular damage and starves without its major energy source, and usually does not recover.
In a paper published in the November 2008 issue of the Journal of Applied Microbiology (JAM), lead author James Cervino, a guest investigator in the WHOI Marine Chemistry and Geochemistry department, and his colleagues report isolating the bacteria that cause YBD: a group of four new Vibrio species, which combine with existing Vibrio on the coral to attack the zooxanthellae. This is the first demonstration that the same bacterial culprits are to blame for the disease throughout the Caribbean as well as half way around the world in Indonesia.
The broad distribution of the core group of Vibrio also helps explain the expanding incidence of YBD throughout the world's tropical oceans, Cervino says. The JAM study documents YBD infection in Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines. According to Cervino, "In the U.S. Virgin Islands, Florida, the Caribbean, YBD is one of the most threatening coral diseases."
The Vibrio bacteria that cause YBD are part of a family with a reputation for disease. "What we have are coral pathogens that are genetically close to shellfish pathogens," Cervino says. For example, one of the Vibrio bacteria found in corals also causes infections in prawns, shrimp, and crabs. The bacteria are also distantly related to Vibrio cholera, the pathogen that causes human cholera epidemics. There is no known danger to humans from YBD, however.
Cervino and colleagues grew Vibrio pathogens together with healthy coral. They found that YBD infection occurs at normal ocean temperatures, but that warmer temperatures made the disease even more virulent. Cervino explains, "Contrary to what many experts have assumed, this disease occurs independently of warming temperatures." However, when the temperatures go up and the corals are already infected, the infection becomes more lethal. "Thermal stress and pathogenic stress are a double-whammy for the organism," emphasizes Cervino. With the Vibrio core group occurring in tropical oceans all over the world and water temperatures on the rise, he says, the prognosis for corals and the spread of YBD is rather grim.
Media Relations | EurekAlert!
Further reports about: > Cellular damage > Climate change > Pollution > Vibrio species > Vibrio vulnificus > YBD > Zooxanthellae > bacterial pathogens > coral colonies > coral health > coral reefs > energy source > ocean temperature > over-fishing > photosynthetic symbionts > tropical oceans > yellow band disease
Dispersal of Fish Eggs by Water Birds – Just a Myth?
19.02.2018 | Universität Basel
Removing fossil fuel subsidies will not reduce CO2 emissions as much as hoped
08.02.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
A newly developed laser technology has enabled physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (jointly run by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics) to generate attosecond bursts of high-energy photons of unprecedented intensity. This has made it possible to observe the interaction of multiple photons in a single such pulse with electrons in the inner orbital shell of an atom.
In order to observe the ultrafast electron motion in the inner shells of atoms with short light pulses, the pulses must not only be ultrashort, but very...
A group of researchers led by Andrea Cavalleri at the Max Planck Institute for Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) in Hamburg has demonstrated a new method enabling precise measurements of the interatomic forces that hold crystalline solids together. The paper Probing the Interatomic Potential of Solids by Strong-Field Nonlinear Phononics, published online in Nature, explains how a terahertz-frequency laser pulse can drive very large deformations of the crystal.
By measuring the highly unusual atomic trajectories under extreme electromagnetic transients, the MPSD group could reconstruct how rigid the atomic bonds are...
Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...
For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.
In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...
Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale
Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...
15.02.2018 | Event News
13.02.2018 | Event News
12.02.2018 | Event News
23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
23.02.2018 | Health and Medicine
23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy