Modes of coral disease transmission: how do diseases spread between individuals and among populations?
Coral disease is considered an important factor in the recent decline of coral reefs worldwide; yet transmission, a critical factor for understanding disease ecology, identifying at-risk individuals and populations, and developing management options, is understudied in coral disease research. Here, we review techniques for investigating coral disease transmission using laboratory and field experiments, and modeling analyzes, and highlight how these approaches can improve our understanding of disease ecology. We summarize current knowledge about three hypothesized modes of coral disease transmission: direct contact, water borne, and vector-borne transmission. We also discuss the key challenge in studying disease transmission, which is unknown or complex etiology. Finally, we suggest potential management strategies that may result from a better understanding of coral disease transmission.
KeywordsTransmission Coral disease Disease ecology Marine disease Vector borne Water borne
The authors would like to acknowledge and thank Dr. Colleen Burge, Dr. Deborah Gochfeld, and two anonymous reviewers for valuable comments and suggestions, which has greatly improved the final manuscript
A. Shore was supported by a Grant from the National Institutes of Standards and Technology (0010509) and by the Rice Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship Program. J. Caldwell was supported by the Stanford University Woods Institute for the Environment, Environmental Ventures Program, and by a grant through the NASA Ecological Forecasting Program (NNX17AI21G).
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interest
A. Shore declares no conflict of interest. J. M. Caldwell declares no conflict of interest.
This article does not any contain studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.
- Aeby GS, Bourne DG, Wilson B, Work TM (2011) Coral diversity and the severity of disease outbreaks: a cross-regional comparison of Acropora white syndrome in a species-rich region (American Samoa) with a species-poor region (Northwestern Hawaiian Islands). J Mar Biol 2011:490198. https://doi.org/10.1155/2011/490198 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Aeby GS, Callahan SM, Cox EF, Runyon CM, Smith A, Stanton F, Ushijima B, Work TM (2016) Emerging coral diseases in Kaneohe Bay, Oahu, Hawaii (USA): two major disease outbreaks of acute Montipora white syndrome. Dis Aquat Organ 119:189–198. https://doi.org/10.3354/dao02996 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Aeby GS (1998) Interactions of the digenetic trematode, Podocotyloides stenometra, with its coral intermediate host and butterflyfish definitive host: ecology and evolutionary implications. Dissertation, University of Hawaii at ManoaGoogle Scholar
- Aguirre-Macedo ML, Vidal-Martinez VM, Herrera-Silveira JA, Valdes-Lozano DS, Herrera-Rodriguez M, Olvera-Novoa MA (2008) Ballast water as a vector of coral pathogens in the Gulf of Mexico: the case of the Cayo Arcas coral reef. Mar Pollut Bull 56:1570–1577. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2008.05.022 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Beurmann S, Ushijima B, Videau P, Svoboda CM, Smith AM, Rivers OS, Aeby GS, Callahan SM (2017) Pseudoalteromonas piratica strain OCN003 is a coral pathogen that causes a switch from chronic to acute Montipora white syndrome in Montipora capitata. PLoS ONE 12:1–20. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0188319 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Bourne DG, Morrow KM, Webster NS (2016) Insights into the coral microbiome: underpinning the health and resilience of reef ecosystems. Annu Rev Microbiol 70:317–340. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-micro-102215-095440 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Bruckner AW, Bruckner RJ, Williams EH (1997) Spread of black-band disease epizootic through the coral reef system in St. Ann’s Bay, Jamaica. Bull Mar Sci 61:919–928Google Scholar
- Burke L, Reytar K, Spalding M, Perry A (2011) Reefs at risk revisited. World Resources Institute, Washington DCGoogle Scholar
- Burreson EM, Ragone Calvo LM (1996) Epizootiology of Perkinsus marinus disease of oysters in Chesapeake Bay, with emphasis on data since 1985. J Shellfish Res 15:17–34Google Scholar
- Daly M, Brugler M, Cartwright P, Collins A, Dawson M, Fautin D, France S, McFadden C, Opresko D, Rodriguez E, Romano S, Stake J (2007) The phylum Cnidaria: a review of phylogenetic patterns and diversity 300 years after Linnaeus. Zootaxa 1668:127–182. https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.180149 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Easson CG, Slattery M, Momm HG, Olson JB, Thacker RW, Gochfeld DJ (2013) Exploring individual- to population-level impacts of disease on coral reef sponges: using spatial analysis to assess the fate, dynamics, and transmission of Aplysina red band syndrome (ARBS). PLoS ONE 8:e79976. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0079976 CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Hewson I, Button JB, Gudenkauf BM, Miner B, Newton AL, Gaydos JK, Wynne J, Groves CL, Hendler G, Murray M, Fradkin S, Breitbart M, Fahsbender E, Lafferty KD, Kilpatrick AM, Miner CM, Raimondi P, Lahner L, Friedman CS, Daniels S, Haulena M, Marliave J, Burge CA, Eisenlord ME, Harvell CD (2014) Densovirus associated with sea-star wasting disease and mass mortality. Proc Natl Acad Sci 111:17278–17283. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1416625111 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Hughes TP, Rodrigues MJ, Bellwood DR, Ceccarelli D, Hoegh-Guldberg O, McCook L, Moltschaniwskyj N, Pratchett MS, Steneck RS, Willis BL (2007) Phase shifts, herbivory, and the resilience of coral reefs to climate change. Curr Biol 17:360–365. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2006.12.049 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Jolles AE, Sullivan P, Alker AP, Harvell CD (2002) Disease transmission of aspergillosis in sea fans: inferring process from spatial pattern. Ecology 83:2373–2378. https://doi.org/10.1890/0012-9658(2002)083[2373:DTOAIS]2.0.CO;2 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Joyner JL, Sutherland KP, Kemp DW, Berry B, Griffin A, Porter JW, Amador MH, Noren HK, Lipp EK (2015) Systematic analysis of white pox disease in Acropora palmata of the Florida Keys and the role of Serratia marcescens. Appl Environ Microbiol 81:4451–4457. https://doi.org/10.1128/AEM.00116-15 CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Kaczmarsky LT, Draud M, Williams EH (2005) Is there a relationship between proximity to sewage effluent and the prevalence of coral disease? Caribb J Sci 41:124–137Google Scholar
- Lang J (1973) Interspecific aggression by scleractinian corals. 2. Why the race is not only to the swift. Bull Mar Sci 23:260–279Google Scholar
- Lang J, Chornesky E (1990) Competition between scleractinian reef corals-a review of mechanisms and effects. In: Dubinsky Z (ed) Ecosystems of the world-coral reefs. Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp 209–252Google Scholar
- Maynard J, van Hooidonk R, Eakin CM, Puotinen CM, Garren M, Williams GJ, Heron S, Lamb J, Weil E, Willis BL, Harvell CD (2015) Projections of climate conditions that increase coral disease susceptibility and pathogen abundance and virulence. Nat Clim Chang 5:688–694. https://doi.org/10.1038/NCLIMATE2625 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Miller J, Muller E, Rogers C, Waara R, Atkinson A, Whelan KRT, Patterson M, Witcher B (2009) Coral disease following massive bleaching in 2005 causes 60% decline in coral cover on reefs in the US Virgin Islands. Coral Reefs 28:925–937. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00338-009-0531-7 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Moreira APB, Chimenno Tonon LA, Pereira VP, Alves N, Amado-Filho GM, Francini-Filho RB, Paranhos R, Thompson FL (2014) Culturable heterotrophic bacteria associated with healthy and bleached scleractinian Madracis decactis and the fireworm Hermodice carunculata from the remote St. Peter and St. Paul Archipelago, Brazil. Curr Microbiol 68:38–46. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00284-013-0435-1 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Pollock FJ, Krediet CJ, Garren M, Stocker R, Winn K, Wilson B, Huete-Stauffer C, Willis BL, Bourne DG (2015) Visualization of coral host–pathogen interactions using a stable GFP-labeled Vibrio coralliilyticus strain. Coral Reefs 34:655–662. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00338-015-1273-3 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Richardson LL, Goldberg WM, Carlton R, Halas JC (1998) Coral disease outbreak in the Florida Keys: plague type II. Rev Biol Trop 46:187–198Google Scholar
- Rutzler K, Santavy DL, Antonius A (1983) The black band disease of Atlantic reef corals. III. Distribution, ecology, and development. Mar Ecol 4:329–358. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1439-0485.1983.tb00118.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Shore A (2016) Ecology and epidemiology of Montipora white syndrome, a tissue loss disease of the Hawaiian coral, Montipora capitata. Dissertation, University of Hawaii at ManoaGoogle Scholar
- Stedman TL (2000) Stedman’s medical dictionary, 27th edn. Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, PhilidelphiaGoogle Scholar
- Sutherland KP, Porter JW, Turner JW, Thomas BJ, Looney EE, Luna TP, Meyers MK, Futch JC, Lipp EK (2010) Human sewage identified as likely source of white pox disease of the threatened Caribbean elkhorn coral, Acropora palmata. Environ Microbiol 12:1122–1131. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1462-2920.2010.02152.x CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Ushijima B, Videau P, Burger AH, Shore-Maggio A, Runyon CM, Sudek M, Aeby GS, Callahan SM (2014) Vibrio coralliilyticus strain OCN008 is an etiological agent of acute Montipora white syndrome. Appl Environ Microbiol 80:2102–2109. https://doi.org/10.1128/AEM.03463-13 CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Wagner D, Luck DG, Toonen RJ (2012) The biology and ecology of black corals (Cnidaria: Anthozoa: Hexacorallia: Antipatharia). Adv Mar Biol 63:67–132. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-394282-1.00002-8 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Zhenyu X, Shaowen K, Chaoqun H, Zhixiong Z, Shifeng W, Yongcan Z (2013) First characterization of bacterial pathogen, Vibrio alginolyticus, for Porites andrewsi white syndrome in the South China Sea. PLoS ONE 8:e75425. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0075425 CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar