Bacterial profiling of White Plague Disease in a comparative coral species framework

by Roder Cornelia, Arif Chatchanit, Bayer Till, Aranda Manuel, Daniels Camille, Shibl Ahmed, Chavanich Suchana, Voolstra Christian R.
Year: 2013


​Roder, Cornelia, Chatchanit Arif, Till Bayer, Manuel Aranda, Camille Daniels, Ahmed Shibl, Suchana Chavanich, and Christian R. Voolstra. "Bacterial Profiling of White Plague Disease in a Comparative Coral Species Framework." The ISME Journal 8 (08/08/online 2013): 31.


​Coral reefs are threatened throughout the world. A major factor contributing to their decline is outbreaks and propagation of coral diseases. Due to the complexity of coral-associated microbe communities, little is understood in terms of disease agents, hosts and vectors. It is known that compromised health in corals is correlated with shifts in bacterial assemblages colonizing coral mucus and tissue. However, general disease patterns remain, to a large extent, ambiguous as comparative studies over species, regions, or diseases are scarce. Here, we compare bacterial assemblages of samples from healthy (HH) colonies and such displaying signs of White Plague Disease (WPD) of two different coral species (Pavona duerdeni and Porites lutea) from the same reef in Koh Tao, Thailand, using 16S rRNA gene microarrays. In line with other studies, we found an increase of bacterial diversity in diseased (DD) corals, and a higher abundance of taxa from the families that include known coral pathogens (Alteromonadaceae, Rhodobacteraceae, Vibrionaceae). In our comparative framework analysis, we found differences in microbial assemblages between coral species and coral health states. Notably, patterns of bacterial community structures from HH and DD corals were maintained over species boundaries. Moreover, microbes that differentiated the two coral species did not overlap with microbes that were indicative of HH and DD corals. This suggests that while corals harbor distinct species-specific microbial assemblages, disease- specific bacterial abundance patterns exist that are maintained over coral species boundaries.


16S rRNA Gene Microarray Gulf of Thailand Pavona Duerdeni Porites Lutea Coral Disease White Plague Disease (WPD)