Marine Biology

, Volume 144, Issue 3, pp 583–592 | Cite as

A basidiomycete isolated from the skeleton of Pocillopora damicornis (Scleractinia) selectively stimulates short-term survival of coral skeletogenic cells

  • I. J. Domart-Coulon
  • C. S. Sinclair
  • R. T. Hill
  • S. Tambutté
  • S. Puverel
  • G. K. Ostrander
Research Article


Endolithic fungi bore through the extracellular calcium carbonate skeleton of reef-building scleractinian corals, both healthy and dead, and effect net erosion of coral reefs. Potential fungal interactions with coral tissue were investigated using an in vitro approach suggested by earlier observations of skeletal repair cones at the site of fungal perforation in Porites sp. A fungal strain was isolated from the skeleton of a long-term culture of healthy, tissue-covered, Pocillopora damicornis Linnaeus colonies maintained in a recirculating system in Monaco. As coral soft tissue spontaneously dissociated in vitro, the skeleton became exposed and hyaline hyphae emerged radially from 15% of the total clipped branches. In this study, which was performed between January 2001 and March 2003, 35 skeleton–hypha explants were embedded in agar-based solid medium, yielding 60% hyphal growth. A fungal strain (F19-3-1) of the dominant (80%) morphology was isolated and propagated in agar-based solid medium. The strain was identified by 18S and 26S rDNA gene sequence analysis as a basidiomycete in the genus Cryptococcus. Co-cultures were used to provide experimental exposure of coral soft tissue to the fungus. The fungus extended the survival of coral cells by 2 days, selectively maintaining skeletogenic cell types. This effect may be interpreted as stimulation by the fungus of a short-term coral defense response.


Fungal Strain Fungal Hypha Coral Skeleton Coral Cell Agar Section 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This work was supported by the Centre Scientifique de Monaco (CSM) (postdoctoral fellowship to I. Domart-Coulon and doctoral fellowship to S. Puverel). The authors wish to thank aquariologists D. Desgres and C. Richard (CSM) for providing coral, J.M. McCaffery (Johns Hopkins University) for assistance with transmission electron microscopy, and E. Tambutté (CSM) and P. Gounon (Université Nice Sophia Antipolis) for assistance with scanning electron microscopy. We thank E. Scully (Towson University) for early discussions leading to this research. We are grateful to Dr. D. Allemand for comments and to Dr. T. Le Campion-Alsumard for encouragement on the work in progress. This is contribution no. 03-591 from the Center of Marine Biotechnology. The experiments reported in this manuscript comply with the current laws in the Principality of Monaco and the United States of America.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • I. J. Domart-Coulon
    • 1
  • C. S. Sinclair
    • 2
  • R. T. Hill
    • 3
  • S. Tambutté
    • 1
  • S. Puverel
    • 1
  • G. K. Ostrander
    • 4
    • 5
    • 6
  1. 1.Centre Scientifique de MonacoMonaco VilleMonaco
  2. 2.Department of Biological SciencesTowson UniversityTowsonUSA
  3. 3.Center of Marine BiotechnologyUniversity of Maryland Biotechnology InstituteBaltimoreUSA
  4. 4.Department of BiologyJohns Hopkins UniversityBaltimoreUSA
  5. 5.Department of Comparative MedicineJohns Hopkins UniversityBaltimoreUSA
  6. 6.National Aquarium in BaltimoreBaltimoreUSA

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