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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 47:219-228 (2001)  -  doi:10.3354/dao047219

Fungi in Porites lutea: association with healthy and diseased corals

J. Ravindran, Chandralata Raghukumar*, Seshagiri Raghukumar

National Institute of Oceanography, Dona Paula, Goa 403 004, India
*Corresponding author. E-mail:

ABSTRACT: Healthy and diseased scleractinian corals have been reported to harbour fungi. However, the species of fungi occurring in them and their prevalence in terms of biomass have not been determined and their role in coral diseases is not clear. We have found fungi to occur regularly in healthy, partially dead, bleached and pink-line syndrome (PLS)-affected scleractinian coral, Porites lutea, in the reefs of Lakshadweep Islands in the Arabian Sea. Mostly terrestrial species of fungi were isolated in culture from these corals. Hyaline and dark, non-sporulating fungi were the most dominant forms. Fungal hyphae extended up to 3 cm within the corals. Immunofluorescence detection using polyclonal immunological probes for a dark, initially non-sporulating isolate (isolate # 98-N28) and for a hyaline, non-sporulating fungus (isolate # 98-N18) revealed high frequencies of these in PLS-affected, dead and healthy colonies of P. lutea. Total fungal biomass accounted for 0.04 to 0.05% of the weight of corals in bleached corals and was higher than in PLS-affected and healthy colonies. Scanning electron microscopy revealed the presence of fungi within the carbonate skeleton and around polyps. Fungi appear to be a regular component of healthy, partially dead and diseased coral skeleton.

KEY WORDS: Scleractinian coral · Porites lutea · Bleaching · Pink-line syndrome · Fungi · Immunofluorescence probe · Lakshadweep Islands · Arabian sea · India

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