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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 130:77-81 (2018)  -  DOI:

Coral tumor-like growth anomalies induce an immune response and reduce fecundity

Caroline V. Palmer1,3,*, Andrew H. Baird2

1School of Marine and Tropical Biology, James Cook University, Townsville, QLD 4811, Australia
2ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University, Townsville, QLD 4811, Australia
3Present address: Guanacaste Dry Forest Conservation Fund, 15 The Village, Buckland Monachorum, Devon PL20 7NA, UK
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Coral growth anomalies (GAs) are chronic diseases that adversely affect organism health and fitness. We investigated immunity and fecundity within and among GA-affected and visually healthy control colonies of the reef-building coral Acropora hyacinthus. Compared to controls, GAs had higher activity of the key immunity enzyme phenoloxidase (PO), suggesting a localised immune response within the GA. Both GAs and healthy tissue of GA-affected colonies had significantly greater total potential PO (tpPO)—PO activity inclusive of the activated latent PO, prophenoloxidase—than control colonies. Higher tpPO activity in GA-affected corals suggests elevated constitutive immunity compared to visually healthy controls. Additionally, fewer GA-affected colonies produced gametes, fewer polyps had oocytes (p < 0.001) and the number of oocytes per polyp was lower. Therefore, GAs in A. hyacinthus might induce, or represent a shift in resource investment towards immunity and away from reproduction. While the effect on population growth is likely to be small, reduced fecundity in GA-affected colonies does suggest a selective pressure against GAs.

KEY WORDS: Coral reefs · Fecundity · Growth anomaly · Prophenoloxidase · Phenoloxidase · Reproduction · Tumor · Immunity

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Cite this article as: Palmer CV, Baird AH (2018) Coral tumor-like growth anomalies induce an immune response and reduce fecundity. Dis Aquat Org 130:77-81.

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