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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 138:155-169 (2020)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03451

Nodular-like growth and axial thickening in gorgonians are a defensive response to endolithic cyanobacteria, involving amyloid deposition

Francesca Carella*, Chiara Miele, Gionata De Vico

Laboratory of Marine Pathology, Department of Biology, University of Naples Federico II, 80134 Naples, Italy
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: An accurate approach to coral disease study is critical for understanding the global decline of coral populations. Such an approach should involve the proper use of medical concepts and terminology to avoid confusion and promote clarity in the coral disease literature. Inflammatory and neoplastic disorders have been frequently confused in corals. They are both reported as ‘growth anomalies’ because of their possible gross similarity, but in fact they are very different types of lesions and pathologic phenomena. In this work, we assessed the distribution and prevalence of growth anomalies, externally visible as nodular-like lesions, in the soft corals Eunicella cavolinii and E. singularis in 2008-2009 in 3 different areas along the Campanian coastline of Italy. Histopathology revealed them as chronic inflammatory lesions, resembling chronic inflammatory lesions of vertebrates, encapsulating an unidentified pathogen. Congo red and Masson Fontana histochemistry highlighted an amoebocyte infiltration with the presence of new apposition of melanin coupled with amyloid sheets intended as part of the defensive response, as reported in other invertebrates. A parallel molecular analysis of 16S rRNA of the lesions suggested that the causative agent is an endolithic cyanobacterium belonging to the order Nostocales. This is the first study assessing the presence of amyloid fibrils in corals.


KEY WORDS: Coral disease · Growth anomalies · Cyanobacteria · Amyloid · Coral immune response · Eunicella


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Cite this article as: Carella F, Miele C, De Vico G (2020) Nodular-like growth and axial thickening in gorgonians are a defensive response to endolithic cyanobacteria, involving amyloid deposition. Dis Aquat Org 138:155-169. https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03451

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