DAO 116:47-58 (2015)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao02911

Changes in the bacterial community associated with black band disease in a Red Sea coral, Favia sp., in relation to disease phases

Luba Arotsker1, Esti Kramarsky-Winter1, Eitan Ben-Dov2,3, Nachshon Siboni1, Ariel Kushmaro1,2,4,*

1Avram and Stella Goldstein-Goren Department of Biotechnology Engineering, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, PO Box 653, Be’er-Sheva 84105, Israel
2National Institute for Biotechnology in the Negev, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Be’er-Sheva 84105, Israel
3Department of Life Sciences, Achva Academic College, MP Shikmim 79800, Israel
4School of Materials Science and Engineering, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Changes of the black band disease (BBD)-associated microbial consortium on the surface of a Favia sp. coral colony were assessed in relation to the different disease phases. A number of highly active bacterial groups changed in numbers as the BBD disease signs changed. These included Gamma- and Epsilonproteobacteria, Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes groups. One cyanobacterium strain, BGP10_4ST (FJ210722), was constantly present in the disease interface and adjacent tissues of the affected corals, regardless of disease phase. The dynamics of the operational taxonomic units (OTUs) of this BBD-specific strain provide a marker regarding the disease phase. The disease’s active phase is characterized by a wide dark band progressing along the tissue-skeleton interface and by numerous bacterial OTUs. Cyanobacterial OTUs decreased in numbers as the disease signs waned, perhaps opening a niche for additional microorganisms. Even when black band signs disappeared there was a consistent though low abundance of the BBD-specific cyanobacteria (BGP10_4ST), and the microbial community of the disease-skeleton interface remained surprisingly similar to the original band community. These results provide an indication that the persistence of even low numbers of this BBD-specific cyanobacterium in coral tissues during the non-active (or subclinical) state could facilitate reinitiation of BBD signs during the following summer. This may indicate that this bacterium is major constituent of the disease and that its persistence and ability to infiltrate the coral tissues may act to facilitate the assembly of the other BBD-specific groups of bacteria.


KEY WORDS: Coral · Black band disease · Cyanobacteria · Microbiota · Red Sea


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Cite this article as: Arotsker L, Kramarsky-Winter E, Ben-Dov E, Siboni N, Kushmaro A (2015) Changes in the bacterial community associated with black band disease in a Red Sea coral, Favia sp., in relation to disease phases. Dis Aquat Org 116:47-58. https://doi.org/10.3354/dao02911

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