Acropora white syndrome (AWS) is characterized by rapid tissue loss revealing the white underlying skeleton and affects corals worldwide; however, reports of causal agents are conflicting. Samples were collected from healthy and diseased corals and seawater around American Samoa and bacteria associated with AWS characterized using both culture-dependent and culture-independent methods, from coral mucus and tissue slurries, respectively. Bacterial 16S rRNA gene clone libraries derived from coral tissue were dominated by the Gammaproteobacteria, and Jaccard's distances calculated between the clone libraries showed that those from diseased corals were more similar to each other than to those from healthy corals. 16S rRNA genes from 78 culturable coral mucus isolates also revealed a distinct partitioning of bacterial genera into healthy and diseased corals. Isolates identified as Vibrionaceae were further characterized by multilocus sequence typing, revealing that whilst several Vibrio spp. were found to be associated with AWS lesions, a recently described species, Vibrio owensii, was prevalent amongst cultured Vibrio isolates. Unaffected tissues from corals with AWS had a different microbiota than normal Acropora as found by others. Determining whether a microbial shift occurs prior to disease outbreaks will be a useful avenue of pursuit and could be helpful in detecting prodromal signs of coral disease prior to manifestation of lesions.
Additional Publication Details
Bacterial communities associated with healthy and Acropora white syndrome-affected corals from American Samoa