Coral Reefs

, Volume 30, Issue 2, pp 443–449

Bacterial decomposition of coral mucus as evaluated by long-term and quantitative observation


DOI: 10.1007/s00338-011-0729-3

Cite this article as:
Tanaka, Y., Ogawa, H. & Miyajima, T. Coral Reefs (2011) 30: 443. doi:10.1007/s00338-011-0729-3


Coral mucus released from Acropora formosa and Montipora digitata was incubated with bacteria under dark conditions for 1 year to evaluate the quantitative degradability. All the mucus samples showed a similar decomposition pattern: about 80% of total organic carbon (TOC) in the mucus was mineralized within 1 month, while some mucus was slowly decomposed over the 1 year. Regression analysis using an exponential curve considering three degradability pools (labile, semilabile, and refractory) fitted the changes of the TOC concentrations very well (r2 > 0.99). Compiling the data on the two coral species, the labile organic C in the coral mucus had mineralization rates of 10–18% d−1 and accounted for 79–87% of the initial TOC in the mucus. Semilabile organic C had mineralization rates of 0.3−1.6% d−1 and accounted for 11−18% of the initial TOC. Refractory organic C accounted for 6% at most. These results suggest that not all coral mucus is rapidly decomposed by bacteria but some mucus remains as semilabile and refractory organic matter for several months.


Coral mucusMineralizationBacteriaCoral reefRefractory organic matter

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Marine Biogeochemistry LaboratoryAtmosphere and Ocean Research Institute, The University of TokyoKashiwaJapan