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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

    DAO prepress abstract   -  DOI:

    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

    *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 (GA) because of their possible gross similarity but instead belonging to very different type of lesions and pathologic phenomena. In this work, we assessed the distribution and prevalence of growth anomalies, externally visible as nodular-like lesions, both in soft coral Eunicella cavolinii and E. singularis in 2008–2009 in three different areas of the Campanian coastline. 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 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 confirmed the causative agent to be possibly an endolithic cyanobacteria belonging to the group Nostocales. This is the first study assessing the presence of amyloid fibril in corals.