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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 510:39-43 (2014)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps10927

Abundance and morphology of virus-like particles associated with the coral Acropora hyacinthus differ between healthy and white syndrome-infected states

F. Joseph Pollock1,2,3,*,**, Elisha M. Wood-Charlson1,**, Madeleine J. H. van Oppen1,3, David G. Bourne1, Bette L. Willis2,3, Karen D. Weynberg1,*,**

1Australian Institute of Marine Science, Townsville, Queensland, Australia
2School of Marine and Tropical Biology, and 3ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies; James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland, Australia
*Corresponding authors: ,
**F.J.P., E.M.W.C. and K.D.W. contributed equally to this work

ABSTRACT: Disease outbreaks are implicated in coral reef degradation worldwide, but little is known about the role of viruses in coral health. In this study, transmission electron microscopy (TEM) was employed in parallel with flow cytometry to compare viral communities associated with visually healthy and white syndrome (WS)-infected tissues of the coral Acropora hyacinthus at Lizard Island on Australia’s northern Great Barrier Reef. Viral community shifts were observed on WS-infected corals that were characterized by higher abundance, smaller size and distinct morphology of virus-like particles (VLPs) on disease lesions relative to healthy tissues. Coral tissues displaying WS contained 65% more VLPs, with 87% of these falling in the sub-100 nm size range, compared to only 7% from healthy tissues. While the observed viral community shifts are not necessarily indicative of disease causation, they may provide diagnostic criteria to discriminate between distinct, but macroscopically similar, WS and WS-like coral diseases. Furthermore, these results highlight the need to incorporate virology in investigations of coral health and disease.


KEY WORDS: Virus · Coral · Disease · White syndromes · Great Barrier Reef


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Cite this article as: Pollock FJ, Wood-Charlson EM, van Oppen MJH, Bourne DG, Willis BL, Weynberg KD (2014) Abundance and morphology of virus-like particles associated with the coral Acropora hyacinthus differ between healthy and white syndrome-infected states. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 510:39-43. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps10927

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