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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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Microscopic bacteria in tissues of coral polyps are important to coral health, ecology, and possibly evolution. Illustration: Thierry M. Work

Work TM, Aeby GS


Microbial aggregates within tissues infect a diversity of corals throughout the Indo-Pacific


Corals contain cell-associated microbial aggregates (CAMA) within their tissues, but little was known about the nature of the relationship to the coral host or how common they were. Using histology, Work and Aeby found CAMA to be widespread in 24 species from six genera and five families of corals throughout the Indo-Pacific, particularly in the dominant genera Acropora, Porites, and Pocillopora. Acroporidae were infected with CAMA more often in the Western versus the Central Pacific, and CAMA infected more tissue compartments in diseased corals. CAMA were not associated with coral cell pathology and are thought to be facultative, secondary symbionts potentially important in immunity, evolution, and ecology of affected coral genera.


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