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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS - Vol. 392 - Feature article
Colored SEM of microborings made by the green alga Phaeophila sp. (green), and the fungi Dodgella priscus (red) and Ostracoblabe implexa (purple). Borings within mollusc shell were filled with resin and the substratum was then dissolved in acid. Image: M. Carreiro-Silva, R. Sá da Bandeira

Carreiro-Silva M, McClanahan TR, Kiene WE


Effects of inorganic nutrients and organic matter on microbial euendolithic community composition and microbioerosion rates


Coral reefs are suffering degradation from increasing fishing pressure, pollution, diseases, and coral bleaching. Reef degradation results in an increase in biological erosion of the coral framework by boring and grazing organisms. Carreiro-Silva and colleagues demonstrated that inorganic nutrients increase bioerosion by euendolithic microborers (bacteria, fungi and algae). Addition of organic matter also promotes colonization by euendolithic fungi over green algae. Microborers act in synergy with the grazers that feed on them, and with macroborers that increase the internal surfaces available for colonization by microborers. As a result, increased nutrient levels can initiate a feedback loop where bioerosion processes reinforce one another, leading to accelerated degradation of the reef framework.


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