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Aquatic Biology

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AB 10:99-104 (2010)  -  DOI:

Acute tissue death (white syndrome) affects the microenvironment of tabular Acropora corals

S. B. Andersen1,5,*, M. L. Vestergaard1, T. D. Ainsworth2, O. Hoegh-Guldberg3, M. Kühl1,4

1Marine Biological Laboratory, Department of Biology, University of Copenhagen, Strandpromenaden 5, 3000 Helsingør, Denmark
2ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland 4811, Australia
3Centre for Marine Studies, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland 4072, Australia
4Plant Functional Biology and Climate Change Cluster, University of Technology Sydney, PO Box 123, Ultimo, Sydney, NSW 2007, Australia
5Present address: Centre for Social Evolution, Department of Biology, University of Copenhagen, Universitetsparken 15 Building 12, 2100 Copenhagen, Denmark

ABSTRACT: White syndrome (WS) is a collective term for coral diseases that cause acute tissue loss, resulting in apparently healthy tissue bordering on exposed skeleton. In this study, the microenvironmental condition and tissue structure of WS-affected tabular acroporid corals were assessed by O2 microelectrodes and histological techniques. The high spatial resolution of the microelectrode measurements enabled an evaluation of the extent of physiological changes at, and 2 cm away from, the WS border. Respiration of the coral host was decreased on the skeleton–tissue border but was comparable to that of healthy corals only 2 cm away from the border. Histological data, however, showed a decrease in mesogloea thickness on and 2 cm away from the WS border, which correlates with a previously observed allocation of photoassimilates away from the WS border. We suggest that there are colony-wide negative effects of WS which affect only the host physiology and, as disparate etiologies are evident in WS, these must be distinguished through the utilization of a multiple tool approach.

KEY WORDS: Coral disease · White syndrome · Microelectrode · Histology

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Cite this article as: Andersen SB, Vestergaard ML, Ainsworth TD, Hoegh-Guldberg O, Kühl M (2010) Acute tissue death (white syndrome) affects the microenvironment of tabular Acropora corals. Aquat Biol 10:99-104.

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